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Crisis Services Canada’s digital transformation means more lives saved

Crisis Services Canada’s digital transformation means more lives saved

On August 14, 2018, Crisis Services Canada (CSC) accepted the award for Digital Transformation in the SME Public or not-for-profit organization category.

This award recognized what’s being called the first integrated multimedia voice, text and chat suicide prevention service. The helpline services are integrated with sophisticated case management and reporting capabilities, and the scalable platform has the capacity to help tens of thousands of Canadians struggling with or affected by suicide, as well as provide referrals for local mental health or personal issues.

This can be described as "Canadian Collaboration at its best” – Bringing together many manufacturers, vendors, organizations, committees and dedicated technology, training and mental health professionals to help save lives! There were 142 dedicated professionals required to help develop, design, configure and install all the various voice, text, chat, computer, network and telecommunications elements. Together, under the stewardship of Roberta J. Fox-Lawson, CTO, four sites, distributed across Canada, went live November 28, 2017.

What is even more amazing is that the CSPS Virtual Contact Centre (VCC) solution leverages on-site PCs, networks and telecommunications capabilities, while overlaying next-generation voice, text and chat communications capabilities. The VCC solution also provides enterprise class multimedia contact centre performance management and reporting capabilities, integrated with a clinical suicide prevention and support applications platform. All-of-these capabilities were not possible in the past for individual non-profit distress centers.

During the first eight months of service, 16,000 people have contacted CSC via voice, text and chat. 188 active rescues have been invoked from all ages and areas of Canada, according to Chief Technology Officer, Roberta Fox-Lawson, “

Conservative Social Return on Investment estimates indicate that the helpline has already saved Canada’s healthcare system over $25.7 million dollars in just an eight-month span, by supporting Canadians in need and reducing expensive police assisted emergency room visits.

“The CSPS clinical and operational model is uniquely versatile, given that the solution was designed to easily provide numerous other mental and social health initiatives, such as specialized services to support Veterans, Indigenous communities, elder care and remote counselling. CSPS is the only national service currently equipped to readily adapt, diversify and expand in such a way”, according to CSC CTO Fox-Lawson.

ITWorld judges explained the reasoning behind awarding CSC; that the “introduction of national email chat and text to what previously was a regional voice only hotline environment broadened the range of people they could reach… It was recognition of their clients’ needs, and it has saved lives right from the very first day. That’s a measurable impact that’s hard to argue with.”

The overwhelming need for the chat and text services was well demonstrated by Canadians over the first eight months of the program. CSC has had to recently informed the public, due to capacity issues and lack of responder-oriented funding, the innovative new media contact channels of chat and text have had to be temporarily suspended.

The CSC 24/7 voice helpline has remained available, and we have a major national fundraising campaign underway to gain funds to grow capacity for suicide prevention trainer responders.

In the short-term, the CSC web site provides information for other affiliated local sites that provide distress centres support via text and chat until CSC can resume support via this media in the near future.

The recognition of ITWorld for this prestigious award highlights the uniqueness and necessity of this type of multi-media service and further underscores how essential this support is for the people of Canada in crisis.

CSC encourages all Canadians to donate generously to help fast track permanent and reliable access to support via Canada’s first nationwide suicide prevention helpline; a multimedia solution desperately overdue and demonstrably needed by the people of Canada.

For further information contact:

Alison Caird, President of the Board, Crisis Services Canada | T: (416) 598-0168 |

Roberta J. Fox-Lawson, Chief Technology Advisor | (289) 648-1981 |

Donations can be accepted at

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