“There are local services available to people in crisis, but we need to get the word out about how to find them,” said Creston RCMP Staff Sgt. Darryl Hammond.
Hammond’s concern stemmed from a police file in which a local person didn’t know where to turn for help.
“Help is only a phone call away, where Crisis Line volunteers can help a caller get access to the resources and support they need,” he said.
The East Kootenay Crisis Line, managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association for the Kootenays, provides a crisis safety net for East Kootenay residents. A call to 1-888-353-CARE (2273) connects callers to volunteers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Volunteers are trained to deal with a variety of mental health issues, including suicide, stressors in relationships, and domestic violence.
“Crisis Line volunteers are available to listen, help problem solve, and have access to information on a number of mental health resources,” according to the organization’s website (www.kootenays.cmha.bc.ca). “Referrals and protocols are in place for emergencies to ensure quality assistance to callers.”
Established by community-minded people in the 1970s, the Crisis Line has evolved into a service with a comprehensive training program and community safeguards in place, and is now considered an essential service in the region.
“We are striving to be an integral part of the East Kootenays by offering a 24 hour support system and safety net to those in crisis. We’ve also been part of a consultation team for clients with chronic mental illness, to ensure a strong support system is in place when things are not going well.”
Creston RCMP, Hammond said, get frequent calls relating to suicidal behavior, from friends and family requesting well-being checks to emergency calls for medical treatment. It is helpful, he said, to understand more about the problem.
The Crisis Line website provides the following information:
WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE
Because of shame, stigma, and the societal assumption that suicide is something that happens to “them” as opposed to “us” we often miss its warning signs which spell out the acronym IS PATH WARM.
Ideation – Talking or thinking about suicide.
Substance Abuse – Misusing substances can be a serious red flag that something is wrong. 50 per cent of all suicide deaths in Canada have an alcohol component.
Purposelessness – Someone who has lost a sense of purpose in life. In this economy, this is especially relevant since unemployment rates continue to increase.
Anxiety – Worrying about things we have no control over such as job losses and finances.
Trapped – Feelings of being stuck in a hopeless situation that there is no way out of.
Hopelessness – Feeling like nothing will ever get better.
Withdrawal – Pulling away from family, friends, or activities when they are needed the most.
Anger – Feelings of constant rage and anger.
Recklessness – Taking dangerous risks with health or safety.
Mood Changes – Marked changes in mood.
If you or anyone you know displays one or more of these warning signs for suicide, please call the crisis line and talk with one of our empathetic and skilled crisis line workers for support and information. They can help assess the situation, work jointly to create a safe plan, and help connect you or the person you’re concerned about to appropriate community health resources.
How do people access support?
Call the Crisis Line at 1-888-353 CARE (2273); or
Call 1-800-SUICIDE a 24/7 provincial network providing every person in B.C. with access to critical suicide intervention and prevention. This service is provided by members of the Crisis Line Association of B.C. and was the first of its kind in Canada.