WELLINGTON COUNTY – Compass Community Services is ending its 2SLGBTQIA+ distress text line on Nov. 19 but the phone line remains open.
Compass executive director Joanne Young Evans said two years ago the agency received funding from an independent organization to operate the text line for three years.
But that organization has withdrawn the third year of funding and Compass doesn’t have the money to keep the text line going, Young Evans said.
She added a text line requires different technology than phone lines and that costs about $10,000 a year. The three-year funding was to end on March 31.
“So, we have to end the line now,” Young Evans said.
“We still have the distress line, and the same resources are available.”
It’s unfortunate though, because the text line offered a safe space for the Queer community, she said, “particularly in the north where there’s geography and weather and Queer resources are limited. This line was an opportunity to connect with somebody, build trust and then hopefully they would call us.”
Young Evans said a youth used the text line and then later called the distress line. That youth was feeling suicidal because they wanted to come out but thought their parents and the community would not be accepting.
“We’ve had a number of these situations in the past year and it’s tragic,” she added. “We were able to help this individual though, told them about resources and helped with a safety plan.”
Although Compass only received 750 text messages since 2021 compared to 34,000 connections by phone each year, “you have to consider the Queer community is more likely to consider suicide because of the lack of support, particularly for the transgender community,” she said.
“Seven hundred and fifty is not a high number, but the complexity and reality of these situations makes the risk of suicide very high. And every life we save is worth it.”
Compass operates four phone lines: teleconnect, where volunteers will call someone to remind them to take medication and do a daily check; Seniors Offering Support, where seniors connect with other seniors on the phone; the 2SLGBTQIA+ distress line; and the general distress line.
Young Evans said the support lines save money for the health system and first responders overall as people with suicidal ideation are calling Compass rather than 911.
The 2SLGBTQIA+ distress line is 226-669-3760.
The other services share the same phone number, 519-821-3760, with different extensions. The distress line is extension 1; teleconnect and Seniors Offering Support intake is done at ext. 6.
Visit www.compasscs.org for more information.