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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Vic chapter.

Content Warning: This article contains mention of suicide and mental illness

What is 9-8-8?

As of November 30, 2023, the Government of Canada launched 9-8-8 as a suicide crisis helpline. All across Canada, individuals can now call or text 9-8-8 to access a trained responder for mental health and suicide prevention support. This service is for individuals in crisis or those who know someone in crisis and need assistance. 9-8-8 is free, available in English and French, and accessible 24/7. 

This hotline has been a multi-year work in progress, first being proposed in the House of Commons in December 2020, where it passed unanimously. 9-8-8 has been put in place to replace Talk Suicide, as Talk Suicide had a smaller coverage and its 10-digit number was less accessible. 

The Importance of 9-8-8

Mental health in Canada is a crisis, according to Statistics Canada, “Each year, approximately 4,500 people in Canada die by suicide, which is equivalent to 12 people dying by suicide every day” and the number of individuals in crisis is far higher. Suicide is a preventable death and we need to be doing everything we can to ensure adequate supports are available. 9-8-8 is an important aspect of that, as within the first year, the hotline is expected to receive between 600,000 – 700,000 calls.

As someone who has struggled with depression, I feel hope in knowing that the message of this hotline is spreading. Those who are going through a dark time now have a resource they know of and can utilize if they’re feeling hopeless. I urge those struggling not to feel shame in reaching out to hotlines because that’s what they’re there for. 

Further Needed Reforms 

I believe 9-8-8 is a step in the right direction toward supporting Canadian mental health and ending the stigma of depression, but further reforms are still needed. To push Canadian leaders toward universal mental health care, the Canadian Mental Health Association has led an advocacy campaign called Act for Mental Health. Under this campaign, they have laid out an extensive program reform proposal entitled Federal Plan for Universal Mental Health & Substance Use Health. In this proposal they speak on how it’s the right thing to do, the smart thing to do, and the importance of it through extensive research and data; a very compelling read for those interested. 

I encourage everyone to sign the Act for Mental Health petition at the embedded link, as well as write your representative or donate if you’re able, so every individual needing mental health care can access it. 

Other 24/7 Crisis Helplines Available 

Kids, teens, and young adults can access the Kids Help Phone by calling +1 (800) 668-6868 or texting CONNECT to 686868

Indigenous peoples can access the Hope for Wellness Helpline through call or text at 

+1 (855) 242-3310 

Those residing on Vancouver Island can access the Vancouver Island Crisis Line by calling

+1 (888) 494-3888

Jess Bayda

U Vic '26

Jess is currently a second-year pre-social work student at the University of Victoria. She has been with UVic's Her Campus chapter since 2023, and participates in both writing and editing. Jess is quite an active member as she loves procrastinating her university assignments by writing Her Campus articles. In her free time she also enjoys drawing, watching movies, and exploring downtown Victoria.