Toward Suicide-Safer Communities: BC Crisis Line Network’s Recommendations to the Federal Government
In Canada, suicide is the 9th leading cause of death overall and 2nd leading cause of death for young adults. Effective suicide prevention requires looking at more than mental health because suicide stems from crisis, and crisis has many beginnings. Canadians need 24/7 access to crisis care that meets people where they are, provides culturally-safe socioeconomic and mental health support without relying on police and coercive psychiatric interventions, and continues care until the person in crisis is back in control of their lives.
Continuing the work toward creating an effective and compassionate mental health crisis services system, the BC Crisis Line Network has submitted three recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance for the Pre-Budget Consultations in advance of the 2024 Federal Budget. These recommendations aim to reshape and bolster mental health crisis services nationwide and pave the way for a robust national suicide prevention framework.
“Our recommendations represent a transformative approach to addressing mental health crises in our communities,” says Stacy Ashton, chair of the BC Crisis Line Network. “By working together, across different levels of governments and partner agencies, we can create a stronger foundation for individuals in crisis and prevent tragedies.”
- Recommendation 1: That the government disentangles entrenched police forces from mental health crisis services by appropriately funding pathways to alternative non-police response programs, including pathways from 9-1-1 and 9-8-8 to local crisis lines and community-based mobile crisis response teams, and reviewing federal policy and legislation that perpetuate reliance on police as mental health first responders.
- Recommendation 2: That the government create a permanent annual Canada Mental Health and Substance Use Health Transfer equivalent to 6% of provincial/territorial health care spending ($2.65B) going to community based mental health services, including local crisis lines, and a mental health crisis response system nested in a robust health and social safety net.
- Recommendation 3: That the government provide funding to update the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention as per the 11 recommendations made by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology in the “Doing What Works: Rethinking the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention” report.
The Federal Government has the power to make significant investments into coordinated systems of care that are flexible, cost-effective, and community-based to ensure that every Canadian experiencing a crisis can receive the care they need to get back on their feet. The BC Crisis Line Network’s recommendations represent a rallying cry for change and a forward-thinking approach that will transform our systems of care through compassion and collaboration.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or considering suicide, please reach out:
- Anywhere in BC 1800SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
- Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789 (no area code required)
About the BC Crisis Line Network
The BC Crisis Line Network comprises ten regional crisis centres across British Columbia, collectively answering the 1800SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 310Mental Health Support (310-6789) phone lines. Most of our centres also answer the current national suicide prevention line and are preparing to continuing to answer as it transitions to 9-8-8.
The BC Crisis Line Network operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide lifesaving crisis intervention, suicide risk assessment, and strengths-based collaborative safety planning and follow-up to vulnerable British Columbians. We safely de-escalate 98% of crisis calls in BC through compassionate listening, trauma-informed safety plans, and follow-up support.