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Todd Doherty says implementation of 9-8-8 national suicide hotline filled with mixed emotions

“Thursday will be a bittersweet moment.”

That’s from Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Todd Doherty as the long-awaited 9-8-8- national suicide hotline will get connected and take calls.

This caps off years of hard work and advocacy for Doherty whose motion to create the hotline received unanimous support from all members of parliament in 2020 and finally received the stamp of approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in August.

Doherty told MyPGNow.com he still wonders how many lives could have been saved if this was adopted sooner.

“You know, I think about the young family that lost their 12-year-old son in our city (Prince George) and if 988 had been in place at that time would he have been able to reach out and could we have saved him and spared this family from being left behind to pick up the pieces.”

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“I also think back to my own experience with suicide based on how many friends I have lost. I lost my best friend when I was 15 and it’s really framed my focus on trying to do whatever we can so that another family doesn’t have to be left to pick up the pieces.”

“It’s been over a thousand days since the House of Commons full of parliamentarians stood unanimously and supported my motion to bring 988 to Canada and we had over 700 communities small and large pass motions with their city council to bring it to Canada,” added Doherty.

The Cariboo-PG representative mentioned an attempt was made years earlier to bring the hotline into place but was turned down, leaving Doherty no choice but to do the yeoman work in Ottawa and within his riding.

“The Centre for Suicide Prevention and the Canadian Mental Health Association petitioned the CRTC back in the early 2000s’ for a simple three-digit national suicide hotline and they were turned down at that time. I can’t help but think about all of those lives that have been lost. How many could we have perhaps intervened and saved had this line been in place sooner.”

The suicide hotline will be open 24/7 and be staffed by crisis responders to give Canadians support either by phone or text.

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