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An Amazing Intervention: MOBYSS

Trigger Warning: Suicide Ideation/Mature Content

We talk a lot about how MOBYSS – Ontario’s first and only mobile youth health clinic – saves lives.

Recently Lindsay, one of our MOBYSS Peer Support Workers, did just that. All by text.

I’m sharing this with you because MOBYSS needs our support now more than ever.

At 4:00 p.m. on a Friday, Lindsay got a text asking if she had time for a chat. The young man on the other side of the phone was in a very dark place. He was ready to kill himself. He had a plan, and the means to go through with it.

Lindsay had been in contact before with this young man, who we’ll call Chris, and together they’d come up with a safety plan.

But clearly it wasn’t working anymore. He felt isolated. Online classes were difficult and everything just seemed too overwhelming. It was clear to Lindsay that Chris desperately needed to go to the hospital, so Lindsay asked to have a direct phone call.

Chris said no, he didn’t want his parents to overhear the conversation.

For three gut-wrenching hours Lindsay and Chris texted back and forth. Sometimes his answers came quickly. Sometimes there were long pauses.

Finally, Lindsay was able to convince him that to stay safe they’d need to connect with a crisis team, whose own work has changed dramatically with the pandemic. The crisis team normally arrives as a police officer in plainclothes in an unmarked car, accompanied by a social worker. Due to the current situation, a uniformed officer in a police vehicle showed up to take Chris to the hospital.

Lindsay knew this change in protocol might trigger a bad reaction, especially if there were nosy neighbours looking on, but she had to risk it. In an effort to relieve his anxiety, she explained every step of the process. The team arrived and, while incredibly shocked and understandably distressed, Chris’ parents drove to the hospital behind the police car.

The following morning Lindsay booked a check-in to ask about his experience at the hospital and to arrange a follow up call on Monday.

Today, Chris has a hospital social worker who monitors his progress, and he’s back at home with his family.

We share this with you to illustrate how literally life changing MOBYSS and the MOBYSS team are for this youth and for the many others that reach out for support.


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