TTC, Distress Centres launch new mental health support program
The TTC and Distress Centres of Greater Toronto have launched a new program providing support to those who witness suicides and attempts in the subway.
Modelled after industry best practices, trained volunteers from Distress Centres of Greater Toronto will visit subway stations in the days following a suicide or an attempt to be available to people who may have been impacted by a traumatic event on their commute. Volunteers, identified by brightly-coloured smocks and caps, will answer questions and direct anyone interested in support services.
"Research has shown that the impact of a traumatic event is complex and emotionally distressing – we want to make sure our customers are well-supported,” said TTC Chair Jaye Robinson. “This program is one piece of our larger strategy to offer help and hope to those who may be in mental distress or contemplating suicide.”
As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, the TTC is also launching a refreshed Crisis Link poster in the hopes of reminding customers and the general public about this important service. The new posters continue to invite anyone in distress to reach out to Crisis Link and encourages those who see someone in distress to notify TTC staff.
In 2011, the TTC, Distress Centres and Bell Canada launched Crisis Link. Crisis Link equips all platform pay phones near the Designated Waiting area with a free direct dial feature to the Distress Centres of Greater Toronto. Crisis Link connects those contemplating suicide with a trained counsellor to help de-escalate the situation and connect them with further help. All calls are confidential.
Counsellors will talk with the caller and assess the risk. Distress Centres staff work as a team and will contact the TTC’s Transit Control Centre, if needed, to take appropriate steps to keep the individual safe.
Help is available to those in distress 24 hours a day via Distress Centres of Greater Toronto at 416-408-HELP (4357). TTC employees can also access internal confidential support services including the Peer Support Program and EFAP.