Functionality of a 3-digit number for suicide prevention – 1 of 4

Video Transcript

Using a three-digit code over the public switched telephone network would likely allow for sufficiently granular location information to route calls to the appropriate mental health crisis and suicide prevention service. However, video relay service and nomadic VoIP calls cannot access most N11 services, as these types of calls do not provide the necessary location information for them to be routed to the appropriate recipient. The same issue would likely occur with calls to a three-digit code. Options to address this issue, such as using an approach similar to the one used for 9-1-1 calls from fixed/non-native and nomadic local VoIP services, whereby calls are triaged and handled by a third-party call centre, would need to be explored.

It may be possible to use the public network for the three-digit code and interconnect it to 9-1-1 networks to permit the escalation and de-escalation of calls between both systems. In Telecom Decision 2005-39, the Commission assessed the use of 8-1-1 for access to non-emergency health teletriage services and considered that there was merit to linking 8-1-1 and 9-1-1 services to enable similar capabilities. Therefore, interconnection between the networks providing mental health crisis and suicide prevention services and 9-1-1 networks may also need to be explored.

Other features that may be more complex to implement or that raise further issues could require follow-up proceedings. For instance, interconnection with the 9-1-1 networks may allow for dispatchable location information, such as address or Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, to be available to 9-1-1 operators should a call to the three-digit code be transferred to 9-1-1, depending on the originating network. However, it is unclear whether it would be feasible for the public network to automatically capture dispatchable location information that could then be used for emergency intervention. In addition, while an individual calling the three-digit code may desire support and assistance in a time of mental crisis, some callers may prefer to remain anonymous and that their location not be shared, at least not at the initial time of the call. Should this information be automatically captured, it would likely raise privacy concerns and may dissuade certain individuals from using the service.

The ability to text directly to the three-digit code may require further investigation, because text, or short message service (SMS), messages are routed differently than telephone calls. They cannot be translated through a 1-8XX number like calls to three-digit codes, and would thus require a separate solution.

Parties are therefore invited to comment on these matters, as well as on other related matters, issues, or proposals that should be considered as part of this proceeding, or in a follow-up proceeding, as appropriate.

This video provides key information from Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2021-191-1 and is intended for Canadians that use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary language.

To enable interested persons whose first language is ASL or LSQ to fully participate in this proceeding, the Commission will accept video submissions in those languages.

Consultation about a 3-digit phone number for suicide prevention

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