July 5, 2018 5:45 pm
Updated: July 5, 2018 7:29 pm

Toronto crisis line volunteer helps those struggling to find way forward

For 50 years, Distress Centres has provided 24-hour support, seven days a week, 365 days a year to individuals in the community who are socially isolated, marginalized, struggling with chronic mental health problems, in distress, attempting to navigate family violence and/or in need of emergency response or suicide prevention. Susan Hay has one woman's story.


Five years ago Kate reached a point in which she no longer believed that she could trust herself not to make a suicide attempt.

“I hit the proverbial rock bottom, it was the absolute lowest point,” said Kate, a Distress Centres volunteer. “On the drive to work all I could think about was how bad I wanted to accelerate and smash into a wall.”

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Kate went to a nearby hospital to get support. While there, she met a hospital volunteer who sat down with her and told her she was not going to face the darkness alone.

“It was almost an out of body experience for me,” Kate said.

“I was like almost looking down at myself in the chair and then he came over to me and he didn’t even hesitate, he just said, ‘I’ve been there too” and the tone of his voice was just enough that I felt all of a sudden that I wasn’t alone.”

READ MORE: TTC peer support program helps workers who witness subway suicides

In Canada, suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death, with rates increasing over the past 60 years. Thankfully Kate’s story is different. She credits her decision to live to the help she received that empowered her to want to recover.

Once strong enough Kate joined Distress Centres 408-HELP Line as a crisis line responder – providing telephone support to individuals who are at risk and at their most vulnerable.

“That desperate motivation to help someone out of their darkest moment and to know that you can only facilitate them empowering themselves,” Kate said. “There isn’t a quick fix but at the same time it felt like – in some small part – that everything that I went through that it was worth it because I have heard people say, ‘thank you so much for listening.’”

Distress Centres now answers more than 82,000 calls annually with the support of highly-trained volunteer responders and professional staff members.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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