NEWS

Brampton woman calls 5 help lines, but only 1 answers

10/30/2014 07:18 EDT | Updated 12/30/2014 05:59 EST
A Brampton, Ont. mother was trying to deal with a crisis involving a family member this month, which left her in desperate need of emergency support.

But when she made calls to five help lines, only one had someone on the other end to answer her call.

The woman's daughter was being bullied and had mentioned suicide in text messages sent to a friend.

"I just started Googling, you know — suicide, crisis," said the woman, who asked CBC News to conceal her identity. "I would come up with a number, I would call it and I would get an answering machine."

Kids Help Phone was the fifth crisis hotline she contacted. It gave her the advice she was looking for, but the woman is concerned about the help lines she couldn't contact.

"Is a 12-year-old little girl that’s in a crisis situation really going to make four phone calls?" she said. "Is she going to make that fifth phone call, or are four slaps in the face enough?"

One of the help lines she couldn't reach is operated by Spectra Community Support Services.

Executive Director Alison Caird told CBC News she wanted to "publicly apologize" to the woman.

"We weren't there for her," she said.

The non-profit centre has received similar complaints and is working to fix its telephone system, a process that is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Caird said a person who gets either a busy signal or a voicemail message when trying to reach a crisis help line, should try calling back again. Reaching out to a health-care provider is also an option.

And if a person is in crisis, or knows somebody who is, 911 is the number to call.

Click on the video above to see a full report from the CBC's Michelle Cheung.

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