Distress Centres at a Glance

24/7 Distress and Crisis Line

  • Serves all of the GTA; 365 days a year, 24 hours a day
  • For almost 50 years, has provided essential, life-sustaining emotional support to those in need
  • More than 120,000 calls placed each year
  • More than 90,000 calls responded to annually, 80% of which are answered within Ministry of Health's best practice guidelines
  • Provides high-risk crisis follow-up by telephone when requested
  • Provides back-up and after-hours service for social service and mental health providers

Survivor Support Program

  • Provides individualized support for survivors - bereaved family and friends - of suicide and homicide loss
  • Provides follow-up series of group support sessions
  • Maintains Suicide Resource Centre - both in person and online.
  • Consultation and support to community and caregivers in the aftermath of sudden, violent death

Caller Reassurance Program

  • Provides outbound calls to isolated, marginalized seniors living independently in the community

Crisis Link

  • The world's first public/private/not-for-profit partnership for a suicide prevention helpline in a subway network (City of Toronto TTC subway)

Toronto Emergency Medical Services Partnership — EMS Warm Transfer Line

  • Provides support to high-risk for suicide callers to EMS until emergency services arrive on the scene

Community Outreach and Education

  • Provides consulation and outreach to other organizations and service providers across the province
  • Supports development of social programs to meet community needs (e.g., Assaulted Women's Helpline)
  • Presents workshops on suicide prevention, crisis intervention and related subjects by request
  • Provides consultation and education on sudden, violent death and grief support
  • Participates in community events to build greater public awareness
  • Provides comprehensive training in front-line emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention
  • Provides opportunities for skill development to community members

Special Services

  • PARO (Professional Association of Residents of Ontario) Helpline provides 24/7 emotional first-aid support to medical residents and students, as well as their family members

Partnership with Provincial Distress and Crisis Line Services

  • Supports provice-wide initiatives and development of distress and crisis line services
  • Provides support and consulation to provincial assocation of distress centres
  • Member of Distress and Crisis Ontario (formerly Distress Centres of Ontario)


Throughout its long history as Toronto’s emotional safety net, the agency has also assisted in the establishment of essential local, provincial and national organizations promoting suicide and violence prevention and mental health support:

1971 - Distress Centres Ontario

1972 - The Metro and Area Distress Centres

1977 - The Canadian Council of Crisis Centres

1982 - The Toronto Council on Suicide Prevention

1984 - The Canadian Association on Suicide Prevention

1985 - The Assaulted Women’s Helpline

1991 - Drug Helpline Project (Ontario-wide)

2000 – merger of Distress Centres under one number: 416-408-HELP

2001 – developed 24-hour helpline with PARO for members of the medical profession and their families

2005 – Survivor Support Program expanded to include homicide support

2005 – Integration of Etobicoke Telecare and relocation of merged operations in North York

2006 – Partnered with City of Toronto and Emergency Medical Services to create warm transfer line for high-risk calls

2008 – partnered with Toronto Public Health and their Psycho-Social Emergency Response and Recovery Services

2008 – Launch of Caller Reassurance Program

2011 – Partnered with TTC and Bell to develop Crisis Link, a dedicated direct line to Distress Centres located on each subway platform

2012 – Caller Reassurance Program for Seniors launched

2012 - Launched the City's first Community-Based Suicide Prevention Centre and E-Library

2015 - Partnered with Distress Centres Ontario, Distress Centres Durham, SPECTRA, and Community Torchlight to launch Ontario's Online and Text Crisis and Distress Service (ONTX)