One year ago, on October 3rd, 2021, we announced the launch of 24 hour crisis text and chat support. We know that crisis can occur at any time of day and that it’s important to offer multiple ways to contact us, to remove barriers to accessing help. Offering crisis text and chat 24 hours a day, to match our 24 hour phone support, is critical to achieving our mission of providing compassionate and accessible crisis support that enhances the health, well-being and resiliency of individuals in distress.
In the last year (up to September 30th), we’ve responded to over 13,000 crisis chats and texts.
People are more comfortable talking about difficult subjects like suicide by text or chat. As of August 31st, 2022, 49.6% of crisis text and chat contacts are suicide-related, compared to just 22% of phone contacts.
Aiden* was one of those contacts. He reached out to our text line after attending his mother’s funeral. He told the responded that the grief was overwhelming, and he felt he had no one in his life to turn to now that his mother was gone.
The responder asked if Aiden was having thoughts of suicide, and he disclosed that he was. The responder thanked him for his willingness to reach out and the strength that it takes. The responder normalized Aiden’s feelings and worked with him to develop a list of coping strategies that he could use when he is feeling overwhelmed. They made a list that included going to the gym, talking to a friend and allowing himself to grieve and remember his mother.
The responder offered to connect Aiden with Alberta Health Services’ Mobile Response Team, to receive further support. Aiden agreed and thanked the responder for listening. The responder invited Aiden to text again if he needs further support and then completed the transfer.
“There is now a generation of Calgarians who have experienced chat and text as the primary way of communicating with others,” said Mike Velthuis Kroeze, Director of Programs and Performance at Distress Centre.
“For many people today, especially youth, making a phone call can be an anxiety producing act. While it is easy to think that if someone’s crisis is severe enough, they will overcome this anxiety to reach out for support, our experience has been this is often not the case.” – Mike Velthuis Kroeze, Director of Programs and Performance
“For many people today, especially youth, making a phone call can be an anxiety producing act. While it is easy to think that if someone’s crisis is severe enough, they will overcome this anxiety to reach out for support, our experience has been this is often not the case,” Mike continued. “To be able to provide all Calgarians with compassionate crisis supports, offering text and chat crisis support 24 hours a day is critical to our mission. Funding from the City of Calgary and the dedication of our staff and volunteers makes this possible.”
When other agencies close their doors, Distress Centre is open and available to help. Since crisis text and chat became available 24/7, we have responded to over 8,600 text and chats outside the hours of 8am to 5pm and two thirds of crisis texts and chats were received outside of the 8-5 hours.
If you need support, please reach out. Text or phone 403-266-4357 to speak with a responder or chat online through the chat portal below (and at the top of every page).
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*Name and details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the service user.