September 13, 2011

TTC awarded for suicide prevention programs

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the 2011 recipient of the Arnold Devlin Community Service Award in recognition of its suicide prevention programs: Crisis Link, Gatekeeper, and Acute Psychological Trauma.

The award was presented by the Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention at a conference at St. Michael’s Hospital, in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day.  TTC Chief Safety Officer John O’Grady accepted the award on behalf of the TTC.

In June, the TTC partnered with Distress Centres of Toronto and Bell Canada to help prevent subway suicides and offer hope to those at-risk of suicide on Toronto’s subway system.

Called “Crisis Link,” the unique program includes posters on every subway platform asking, “Thinking of Suicide? There is help. Let’s talk.” The posters encourage those contemplating suicide to use the payphone at the Designated Waiting Area located on every subway platform, and the new direct dial button that now connects callers with a trained counselor at the Distress Centres of Toronto. The phone call is free and confidential.

Counselors will talk with the caller and assess the risk that the individual is considering suicide. Distress Centers staff work as a team and will contact the TTC’s Transit Control Centre to implement the appropriate measures to ensure the individual remains safe.

The TTC also has a Gatekeeper program that teaches front line TTC employees to be aware of the signs of at-risk customers and to develop and enhance intervention skills and increase their confidence and competence to intervene. The TTC also does extensive work with its own employees who have suffered acute trauma following a suicide in the subway system.

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