Volunteer with Talk Suicide Canada
Help someone when they need it most. Talk Suicide volunteer responders give connection and hope to people facing some of the hardest moments of their lives.
This is tough work but also very rewarding and beautiful. You get to be there for someone in their darkest moments, have the privilege of knowing their story, and hear things they might have never dared tell anyone before. It truly is an honor to bear witness to such raw moments of the human experience and have the opportunity to help callers feel less alone
– Talk Suicide responder
Who you are
- 18 or over.
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
- Can offer active listening, empathy and patience.
- Level-headed in a crisis.
- Can work independently and as a team.
- Confident managing your own emotions and stress levels.
- OK with receiving feedback.
- Non-judgmental, open-minded, and accepting of diverse values and beliefs.
- Comfortable using a computer.
- Can follow policies and procedures.
What you will gain
- Training and support in assessing and de-escalating crisis and high stress situations.
- Improved communication and interpersonal skills.
- Experience supporting people across a range of issues.
- Increased self-awareness, reflection and self-care skills.
- Experience to support a future career in mental health, counselling, emergency services, and more.
- knowledge you have made a tangible difference in others’ lives.
- Supportive team-mates.
What volunteer responders do
- Take calls and texts from people facing suicide and people who are concerned about someone else.
- Offer emotional support and resources without judgement.
- Assess the risk of suicide while supporting the person reaching out.
- Work collaboratively with the help-seeker to create a safety plan.
- In a small number of cases, involve emergency services.
- Work from a private and secure home-based location.
- Adhere to Talk Suicide’s standards of practice.
- Respect confidentiality, upholding the highest ethical and legal standards.
How do I apply?
Required steps for application
- Apply online by filling out the form below. Select “I’m interested in becoming a responder” under “subject”.
- You will then get the opportunity to attend an information session, so you can find out more about what being a responder involves, and we can find out a bit more about you
- If we think you could be a good fit, we’ll contact you to invite you to interview. Before the interview, we will ask you to come to a mandatory information session.
- The next step is attending the interview. You might be asked to do a role-play exercise as part of this.
- If you’re successful, we’ll invite you to join an upcoming training program.
- You’ll then have a police and vulnerable sector check.
Join our team of amazing volunteers.
Talk Suicide provided life-saving support to over 88,000 people last year.
Volunteer responder FAQs
Questions about becoming a volunteer? Browse the topics below, or if you can’t find the answer you are looking for, contact us.
What kinds of calls and texts will I be answering?
Talk Suicide is available 24/7. We help people of all ages, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, cultures and religions. Talk Suicide is a suicide prevention helpline, which means you will be talking to people who are thinking about ending their lives, or people who are worried about someone they know.
Serious subject matters, including suicide, non-suicidal self-injury, eating disorders, addiction, abuse, sexual violence, bullying, depression and other mental health crises, often come up in conversation. The majority of volunteers tell us they find their experience to be incredibly rewarding, but it’s important to be prepared for what might come up. Talk Suicide training will help you learn how to respond to someone going through a range of situations, including the subjects described above.
Where will I be working?
All our responders work remotely, most work from their homes. We will ask you to confirm that you have a secure and private space to work from as part of the application process.
Who will I be working for?
If you sign up as a volunteer responder for Talk Suicide, you will join our hub. Calls and texts to Talk Suicide are routed to a network of distress centres around the country – the hub provides additional capacity and support to the service.
Will I be working on my own?
Although you will be working from your home, supervisors will be available to provide guidance, support, debriefing and feedback when appropriate.
Do I need to have previous experience to apply to be a responder?
You don’t need to have previous experience of providing crisis support to become a responder. We are always happy to receive applications from compassionate and committed people who want to become helpline volunteers.
What happens when I have finished the training?
Once we have determined that you meet the requirements and can demonstrate you have acquired the necessary skills during training, we will start scheduling your shifts.
Are there any costs involved with becoming a responder?
There is a fee of $100 to take the Talk Suicide responder training. However, we do offer a sliding scale for those who need it, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions. Please note that due to the high demand for places, the fee is non-refundable.
You will also need to have access to a laptop/computer that runs Windows 10 / macOS 11 or newer, as well as access to secure, password-protected internet with 50-100mbp download/upload speeds.
Are there opportunities for additional training?
We encourage all our responders to continue building their knowledge and skills. You will be offered advanced courses on topics including crisis intervention, mental health and community support as your skills develop.
Is there a minimum time commitment for volunteers?
We will ask you to complete 50 shifts or 200 hours over one year – that’s about one - four hour shift per week. You can work more shifts than this if you want to! As a new volunteer, we will also ask you to work one – four hour night shift per month. All of this helps make sure that we have enough capacity to answer the calls and texts that come during the night. It also helps make sure that you are gaining enough experience to apply your skills and grow as a crisis intervention responder.
What happens if I can’t meet the minimum time commitment?
While we understand that life happens, we encourage you to apply to volunteer during a time that you are confident you can honour your commitment. However, we do know that from time to time things come up. The most important thing is that if they do, you keep in touch with us and let us know what is going on.
How long is each shift?
Each shift is four hours.
Will I need to call 911?
Most people who seek help from us have a concern about suicide, either about themselves or someone else. In most cases, they are looking for support with the challenges they are facing. In a small number of cases (around 3% of interactions) responders determine there is an imminent risk to the safety of the service users. In these cases, the responder will work with the service user to help them stay safe in the moment. This might involve contacting emergency services and/or other authorities. Responders have a duty to take action whenever there is an imminent risk to the health/safety of a service user, or a risk to a child. We will provide you with all the training you need to know when to call emergency services and how to reach out to them if you need to.
How long do I have to volunteer before I can get a reference letter?
We will ask you to fulfill the minimum commitment of 50 shifts/200 hours before we provide a letter of reference for job applications or applications for graduate programs.
Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Talk Suicide Canada. Please take some time to read our Volunteer information above before completing this form to find out more about what being a Talk Suicide crisis responder involves.
Help when you need it
It’s important to talk about suicide. Connect any time:
- Call 1.833.456.4566. Toll free | 24/7/365
- Text 45645 4 p.m. - midnight ET
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Help us reach more people in need and save more lives across Canada.