Getting Help Online

Earlier this month Facebook joined the initiative to support people in crisis by announcing a new feature that will enable users to connect with a counsellor. If a friend reports content that indicates suicidal or self-harm thoughts, Facebook will send the user an email encouraging them to call a suicide prevention line and provide a link to begin a confidential chat. We agree that quick intervention is important, and thankful Facebook is taking steps to provide support to those who are in crisis.

The Crisis Support Centre has offered an online crisis chat service since 2001. Every year, we have seen an increase in the number of people accessing these services. With over 360 crisis chats in 2010, it has become very clear that for some being able to access a real person via online chat is an important part of being able to cope. Providing support in whatever way a person is comfortable with is an important goal of our agency. Not everyone is comfortable with receiving support or sharing their concerns in the traditional face-to-face method. To provide support to as many people as possible, the Crisis Support Centre offers our services in person, online and by phone.

The benefits of having online crisis services are that support is available in the comfort of your own home, office, library or school. There is no need to worry about getting a babysitter, arranging transportation or taking time off work for an appointment. You can simply access support anywhere with an internet connection. In a world where people can access almost anything online, support is now one of them, and the sooner someone can get help the more likely that crisis will not escalate into a dangerous situation.

What do you think? Are online crisis services the support of the future? Would you use online crisis services if you needed to speak to someone or would you prefer a face to face or over the phone contact? Would you encourage others to reach out online?

We think crisis services like what is offered by the Crisis Support Centre and the Facebook initiative, along with the support of friends and family combine to make a superhero team. Together, it allows people to be supported from all sides; traditional support from loved ones, an opportunity to reach out to a third party when they need an unbiased ear and it allows people to support friends and acquaintances in situations where they may not feel comfortable approaching the topic themselves.

How would you approach a friend who made a worrying comment online and would you feel comfortable using the new Facebook feature? What else could we do to further improve online crisis services? We want to hear what you think and what ways you would feel comfortable reaching out for support for yourself and others.

If you would like to know more about Facebook’s new feature, you can check out the articles below, or you can search suicide on Facebook for instructions and information on using the new feature. To connect with the online crisis services at the Crisis Support Centre go to

Facebook Launches Suicide Prevention Effort

Facebook Aims to Help Prevent Suicide

Language Used in the Media Regarding Suicide - A Response From Our Executive Director

We are extremely sad to learn of yet another teen death by suicide. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of this young girl from Quebec. Read the article about this 15 year-old's struggle with being bullied and the sad outcome of her situation here, courtesy of The Edmonton Journal.

While it is important to publicly discuss and address the issues surrounding suicide, we also want people to be using the correct language when doing so. When someone dies by suicide, the media often states that the individual has "committed suicide." The Executive Director of The Support Network addresses why the word "commit" should be avoided when talking about suicide in a response to The Edmonton Journal's article. Below is her response to the Journal's article:

I am writing to respond to the article in the Thursday, December 1st edition of The Edmonton Journal titled “Quebec teen commits suicide after years of bullying”. As an organization that specializes in crisis management and suicide prevention and bereavement, we work to lift the silence on suicide and remove the stigma.

One thing that continues to thwart our efforts is language used by the public and media when reporting on the tragedy of losing yet another Canadian to suicide. Suicide is not a crime, therefore, the word commit is not the appropriate language. By saying a person commits suicide we are implying that they have committed a crime or a sin. Some would support this notion, however, this only serves to continue the stigma and the isolation of those impacted by suicide. We believe people should be defined by their life, not their death.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Those who consider suicide are seeking help. If you are, or know someone who is thinking of suicide call the Distress Line at 780-482-4357. We are here for you to listen when life hurts.

Additional Support Network crisis services can be accessed through

What is Suicide Intervention?

The Support Network has a mission: We change lives. We save lives.

The Education Services Program of The Support Network provides workshops and training that range in crisis-related topics from Understanding Self-Harm to Family Violence, but the primary focus is on Suicide Intervention.

You might ask, “What is intervention?”

Intervention is different from Prevention or "Postvention" in that it serves individuals while they are in a state of crisis, a state where it can be seemingly impossible to take that first step towards healthy coping and healing without support. Interventionists ask the right questions at the right time, and listen to the painful stories. They empower those in crisis to keep choosing life, and to create an environment that is as emotionally and physically safe as possible in their time of turmoil.

“But why don’t people just go see a psychiatrist or counsellor?”

That’s often a helpful resource in the ongoing “Postvention” stage, but it’s not for everyone, and usually crisis doesn’t pay attention to regular office hours. Those in crisis need immediate support from a caring and skilled helper, someone who recognizes the problem whenever it arises and has the courage to be a part of the often challenging solution.

“So what does an interventionist do?”

They ask the tough questions that others might be too uncomfortable to ask. They talk about the emotional side, the difficult-to-explain side. They reveal strengths, positive coping and resources that you may not recognize you had. And they empower you to design a plan to heal that is your own, a way to climb out of the pit of crisis with a ladder you built yourself.

“Does intervention really work? I mean, if someone wants to die, won’t they just find another way?”

The best way to answer that is with an example. Have you heard of the Golden Gate Bridge? Ranked the most common location in the world for people to die by suicide; a dubious honour for such a beautiful landmark. But what is significant for our work is that it is also the number one place in the world for a person to survive suicide. Long term data compiled on individuals who received some form of intervention while planning an attempt at the Bridge showed that 94% went on to live their lives and not die by violent means (Seiden, 1978). Similar results have been confirmed repeatedly by numerous other studies.

Intervention is powerful. A caring person with a supportive message at the right time can truly change and save lives. They don’t need to be the expert. Just an empathetic and non-judgmental voice when a person needs it most. This could be a parent, a sibling, a friend. It could be you.

If you want to learn more or find out how you can help someone in crisis, go to and follow the links to Education + Training to sign up for intervention training.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, please call our 24/7 Distress Line at 780-482-4357 or visit us at

Has Eminem's music video gone too far?

Rapper and performer Eminem, has just released a new music video for his song “Space Bound”. His songs and music videos have caused controversy in the past, such as his 2010 song “Love the Way you Lie” depicting the harsh reality of the cycle of abuse. This time around however, Eminem’s new music video shows a very graphic re-enactment of a suicide by shooting himself, and many argue that he has gone too far.

With lyrics like “Nobody knows me, I’m cold, walk down this road alone” many people argue that Eminem is just providing an unfortunate but true reality of what many people dealing with loss, such as what the character in the Space Bound video goes through by discovering his girlfriend is cheating on him, feels. Mark Vasey writes in his Mental Health Realities blog, that no one wants to talk about suicide and when piece of art comes along like Space Bound, it is called “offensive, graphic, inappropriate and not suitable”. Mark Vasey believes that Eminem is doing a good thing by portraying suicide in the music “because people need to be able to face the realities of suicide and not just look the other way”.

Others tend to think that the opposite is true when celebrities use art or music videos to create graphic images of undesirable outcomes to mental health issues. On the “Please Don’t Jump” Facebook page, operated through a member writes “Done responsibly, Eminem can use this video to prevent suicide and reduce trauma. So far he has not.”

What do you think? Does a music video that depicts a graphic suicide go too far? Does it hurt people or help people?

Additional Support Network crisis services can be accessed through

Is bullying inescapable in today’s society?

We see in the headlines over and over again, that bullying has become one of the top concerns parents, students, and teachers are facing on a daily basis. The problem is, bullying has been around forever. It is not new; generation after generation can recall either being bullied or watching the bullying behaviours occur. Remembering back to high school or junior high there will always be some sort of memories connected to how the “Bullies” ruled certain areas of the playground or the back corner lunch tables. Yes, kids were scared when crossing them in the hallway or some took certain measures to avoid all contact. But as the school bell rang, all kids could go to the comfort of their homes. But the biggest question that we should be asking today is: Is electronic communications technologies leading to such extreme cases of bullying?

Youth are no longer safe in their bedrooms or at home with their parents, electronic communication technologies, such as texting and social networking sites have taken bullying to a new level.

A new term has evolved that expresses the severity of the consequences that bullying is taking on its victims; it sadly describes the growing rate of suicides because of bullying. Today, it is called “bullycide”. On November 5, 2010 16 year old Cassidy Andel hung herself in her home, unable to cope with the vicious things being said about her through text messaging and social media networks.

It seems that kids that are being bullied can’t escape the malicious names and comments once the bell rings, and kids are being tormented night and day by the never ending stream of hurtful words published through the internet. Is avoiding bullies no longer a choice? Are the kids that are partaking in the constant name calling or the starting of cruel rumours not stopping at the school doors?

We want to hear what you think! Write us a comment and place a vote on our Opinion Poll.

Additional Support Network crisis services can be accessed through