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