Through its community programs and online presence, NEED2 works to prevent deaths by suicide, reduce stigma, and break the silence. They provide accessible emotional and crisis support by engaging the community and advancing the dialogue.
Sadly, suicide remains the leading cause of injury-related death among 12-24 year olds. In south Vancouver Island alone, 18% of youth report having considered suicide in the past year (McCreary Centre Society, 2018). These staggering statistics suggest that approximately 1 in 5 youth, at some point in their life, will seriously consider suicide. NEED2 offers a much-needed response to this issue by providing access to low-barrier, youth-focused suicide prevention services. NEED2’s programming promotes improved mental health for youth by decreasing the risk and severity of harmful coping behaviours; increasing willingness to seek help; and providing bridging support to other resources.
Programs include the Suicide Education and Awareness (SEA) classroom workshops (for students in grades 8 to 12 and staff throughout the Greater Victoria school system), as well as Mindfulness for Middle Schools, an experiential program for grade 6 students that teaches mindfulness practice in order to combat anxiety and stress.
NEED2’s largest program is Youthspace.ca, a digital crisis service for youth under 30 that is accessible through instant messaging (www.youthspace.ca) and texting (778-783-0177). The service is available nationally and is open every night of the year from 6 pm – 12 am PST. Youth who reach out to Youthspace are connected with highly trained, skilled volunteer crisis responders, who offer empathetic listening and support. The youth and the crisis responder work together to plan out ways to stay safe, find age-appropriate resources, and develop coping strategies.
Recent funding from the Courtnall Society for Mental Health will support Youthspace.ca program operations and cover the cost of approximately 250 unique Youthspace.ca crisis chats. These chats enable youth experiencing emotional distress to connect one-on-one with a skilled crisis responder who helps them to explore ideas, options, supports and resources. The crisis responders available through Youthspace.ca help youth build and access strategies for effectively navigating and managing life’s many challenges.
Each year, over 120 volunteer Youthspace crisis responders, supported by a team of staff, respond to 4500+ chats/texts. Roughly 3% of calls require an emergency intervention (i.e. a call to an outside service including 911 and mobile crisis response teams). In some cases, Youthspace’s services are literally lifesaving.
A service user recently shared with NEED2: ”I want to thank you…last month you saved my life. I want you to know how much I appreciate someone being there for me when it felt like I had nobody else. I’m really grateful for a second chance.”