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Now people in every province and territory who are experiencing a mental health crisis and need immediate, real-time support can use the three-digit number.

Similar to 911 for accessing fire, police and medical emergencies, 988: Suicide Crisis Helpline is a short, easy-to-remember number to get a quick response from coast to coast to coast, 24/7 and free of charge.

Dr. Allison Crawford, chief medical officer for the line, is co-ordinating the service. She is also a psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the country's largest teaching hospital for mental health based in Toronto. Crawford said the goal of 988 is to prevent suicide.

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Tracy Wixon