By Andru McCracken

The suicide rate in Northern BC is the highest in the province, and each year, the call volume at the Crisis Prevention, Intervention and Information Centre for Northern BC increases by 15%, according to Riley Skinner, the centre’s program coordinator.

“Suicide is a worldwide problem and Northern BC has the highest rate of suicide in BC: it is absolutely a problem and it’s our mandate to tackle that issue,” said Skinner.

When somebody calls the crisis line (1-888-563-1214), the centre provides “unconditional positive regard” and when people do call the line, they’re able to do good work.

“Within this past year 86.7% of the calls we took, the presiding issue was suicide,” said Skinner. “We work with them to create a safe plan. Someone calls, they are thinking about suicide, they have a plan for how they would like to end their lives, and we explore their options and end that plan and reach a level of safety in which they could be independent.”

Skinner said they are successful when people reach out, but they also do 3rd party work. This is when a friend or family member reaches out on behalf of the person struggling.

“Sometimes we have success with that,” he said.

Another referrer is professionals, who make contact on behalf of a patient or a client.

Because Northern B.C. is vast, about the size of France but with a population of 220,000 people, a crisis line makes the most sense.

“It helps us take the distance out of the region when we can speak to someone in Haida Gwaii, Dease Lake or Valemount,” he said.

“A big part of what we do is help outline issues that callers are having and direct them to pertinent resources. Let’s say we have a caller calling from McBride and they are thinking of suicide, we could help direct them to mental health services in their area.”