World Suicide Prevention Day takes place Sept. 10 to serve as a reminder to keep our eyes open for those who may need a hand during these difficult times.
Asha Croggon, a program director with the Interior Crisis Line Network (ICLN), said the crisis line network, which spans 221 square kilometres within the Interior Health region, has recently received an increase in the number of calls.
“This has been an unprecedented time for all of us, so we’ve seen an increase in our call volume, roughly 30 per cent. Some weeks it’s up to 50 per cent, but there are weeks where it settles down a bit,” Croggon said.
“We’ve also seen an increase in call intensity, which means more people have greater escalations. So definitely, we get more violent calls, more suicide-related calls, and calls related to past sexual trauma and that can be because, during a traumatic event such as a global pandemic, it can trigger some of our trauma responses that relate to other experiences in life.”
She said economic uncertainty has put stress on people and coupled with the isolation due to gathering restrictions, it has become too much for some.
Croggon said the increase in crisis calls have a two-fold impact on staff and volunteers.
“One is a real sense of meaning. They do this work because they want to make a difference, they want to show someone that they’re cared for. But on the flip side, there has been bruising of that intention because of fatigue.
“We’re getting such an increase in calls and that is impacting them too. We’re being really attentive around burnout, and we’ve been really attentive around caring for them and encouraging them to debrief after difficult calls and to take time away from the line if they need.”
Every Sept. 10, Croggon said the crisis line network and their partner agencies put together public events to spread awareness of suicide prevention, but that won’t be the case this year.
“Traditionally, we would have a walk and public workshops, but we live in a different time now. The walk is now virtual and information is now being shared online instead,” she said.
For those who may be struggling with stress and trauma, Croggon has a message.
“You matter. You’re not alone, and please reach out for help…help is just a call, whether it’s calling a crisis line or calling a friend or a loved one. People care and speaking to someone can help alleviate all this pressure.”
For more information on the ICLN, visit their website. For more information on virtual events, visit the CMHA Kootenays page.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, call the ICLN at 1-888-353-CARE.