02/08/2013 07:21 EST | Updated 04/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Quebec Suicide Hotline Doesn't Answer 24% Of Calls

elderly woman call
Thousands of calls to Quebec's suicide hotline are never answered and the government says it needs to act quickly to make sure those who need help are heard.

As Quebec's 23rd suicide prevention week comes to a close, the provincial government is promising to improve a number of its mental health services, including the hotline service, which doesn't pick up 24 per cent of calls.

Statistics from Quebec's health ministry show 49,000 people dial 1-866-appelle every year.

Quebec’s health minister Réjean Hébert said he wants to improve the hotline service.

"We need to answer those calls. We need to act quickly. We need to be on the phone and be there for those people who need it," he said.

He said the government has plans to reduce the number of dropped calls and improve the hotline's overall performance.

Bruno Marchand, the general director for Quebec's suicide prevention association (AQPS), said the dropped calls could be the result of technical glitches.

He said he hopes the health minister will follow through on his promise.

$50,000 annually committed to suicide prevention

Hébert announced this week that $50,000 would be committed every year to suicide prevention week.

The government also has plans for a new database that will keep a record of contributing factors and health services used prior to each death.

The AQPS reports an average of 1,000 suicides every year in Quebec – roughly three a day.

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