Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut July 03, 2018 - 1:30 pm

Kids Help Phone launches new texting support service in Nunavut

Youth can now text with a crisis counsellor anonymously and for free

SARAH ROGERS
Youth in Nunavut can now text 686868 to communicate with a crisis responder for free and anonymously. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Youth in Nunavut can now text 686868 to communicate with a crisis responder for free and anonymously. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

Nunavut youth have a new way to reach out for help.

Kids Help Phone launched its new crisis texting service across the territory on June 27, which allows youth to text with a crisis responder anonymously and for free.

The nationwide youth counselling and support service teamed up with the non-profit Canada Health Infoway earlier this year to launch the new text line, with plans to gradually roll it out across the country.

But when Kids Help Phone heard about the two recent deaths of young Inuit men in Iqaluit by suicide, they accelerated their efforts to offer the service to Nunavummiut.

“We feel we must take action now and decided to offer our support to youth and families in the Nunavut communities through our crisis texting support service,” said a Kids Help Phone spokesperson.

But the swift service is also thanks to an Iqaluit resident who happens to sit on the Kids Help Phone’s youth advisory council.

Kieran Drachenberg, 18, a new graduate of Inuksuk high school, has volunteered with the phone support service for the last nine years.

He and his mother, Catherine Lightfoot, reached out to the organization last week and said the Kids Help Phone staff helped ensure the texting option was working in Nunavut “within a matter of hours.”

Rather than call and speak to a counsellor, youth who are struggling with negative feelings or even suicide can now text 686868 to communicate with a crisis responder.

“I think the big issue with phone calling is a lack of privacy,” said Drachenberg.

“Especially in Nunavut, where there’s a real issue with a lack of privacy in homes. It’s hard to make a phone call.”

The texting option also gives users time to put thought into what they really want to express, Drachenberg said.

The service is only available in English, 24 hours a day.

The Crisis Text Line works on any text/SMS-enabled cell phone where there is cellular service. It doesn’t require an internet connection or an app.

The texter’s phone number does not appear to the crisis responder, and all the information a text shares remains confidential unless it becomes necessary to contact emergency services.

Kids Help Phone still offers phone counselling at 1-800-668-6868 and an online chat service for those who prefer to communicate that way.

Kids Help Phone has been available for residents in Nunavut since it launched its service in the territory in 1989.

According to its statistics on users who identify where they’re from, youth in Nunavut make up about 0.3 per cent of all of Kids Help Phone’s counselling sessions.

“This shows us that we can and must do more to ensure young people in the territory know about our service and the other support helplines available,” a spokesperson from the organization said.

Text 686868 for help.

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(6) Comments:

#1. Posted by good start on July 03, 2018

This is a good start. And it’s good for Iqaluit, where many youth have access to a phone.

But what about the MANY MANY MANY kids in the smaller communities where there is no phone available? What do they do?

#2. Posted by Talking..... on July 04, 2018

Bell Canada is expected to have all the smaller communities covered in 2019. The kids help phone is just one of many resources available. Smaller communities can call the various organizations through “land lines” and even using the limited internet available. Groups and organizations in each community should be also able to help if approached. Schools, community groups, phone in lines, internet all contribute to helping those that need it. It’s not a perfect solution but it’s helping. If even one life is saved it’s doing the job it’s intended.

#3. Posted by Nunavik too please on July 04, 2018

We need it in Nunavik too. We all know this is a bandage solution for the deeper issues, but at least something is being put there to help our kids in crisis. Who’s on the line with theses kids when they dial or text? Wondering if it’s the usual someone, not their own culturally understanding people? I’m just stating that to make a point as I see it. What I see today, in Nunavik, are kids being cared for by good people outside of their own culture. Whether it be going for health care or social help. It’s like a big rescue of inuit children by non inuit. I don’t like it , but I want the kids to be safe. It’s starting to be bad, and getting worst. Non inuit are getting more serious in the approach to keep inuit kids safe. It’s already started a divide among inuit and non inuit, lots of what we are seeing in a racist contexts today are fuelled by this rescue of children. Inuit that are not looking after their children, many of which, want to end their life, are feeling racism.

#4. Posted by Kids at risk on July 04, 2018

Sweet lord. Don’t tell me that kids that are suicidal are the result of residential school, or colonization. Please. When the blame is put on residential school and colonization, it reliefs the responsibilities from the parents, the family and the community. Thereby, kids are neglected, with good excuses, not by anyone’s else’s fault but the government. Do anyone really believe that? The government may have taken away a lot, but one thing it didn’t do, and that, it didn’t take away the ability of people to react in the best way possible under the horrible conditions. Choice dear people, choice is still available. Please, inuit, make good choices, and don’t let what happened to your forefathers, be the recipe to die out.

#5. Posted by expansion on July 05, 2018

This is a privileged response. Many of the ones who need it most have no phone. There are often no places for many to go to use a phone, especially at night. It is a good thing, and a good action to take, but many who truly need it still have no access to the service.

#6. Posted by A better solution on July 06, 2018

A better solution to all this , is to find out who’s causing the abuse , and deal with them harshly. Make laws more harsh for those adults abusing kids.

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