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Patterns of Use of the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line: 

Patterns of Use of the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line Tan, J.a,b, Maranzan, A.b, Boone, M.a,b, VanderVelde, J.a,c, & Levy, S.c aCentre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs bLakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON cNunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line


Introduction This project = a collaborative research effort between the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line (NKHL) and the Mental Health Task Force of the Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs


NKHL has 3 local Iqaluit lines + one toll-free line + one toll-free AIDS Information Line. Main catchment area = Nunavut, but calls also come from Nunavik and other areas in the nation.


For more information, refer to tomorrow’s talk @ 11 am by Ms. Sheila Levy and Mr. John VanderVelde: “Volunteer Comments and Service Implications Derived from the Research project: Patterns of Use of the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line”.


Crisis lines help individuals with problems in the community. They provide a possible source of help for someone who is in psychological pain and who might be suicidal.


Nunavut has the youngest population in Canada, has the highest youth suicide rate in the country (Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, 2003). Among the males, suicide rates peak within the 15-19 age group, followed by a smaller peak within the 30-34 age group (Chief Coroner for Nunavut, 2003). Among the females, the rates peak within the 20-24 age group (Chief Coroner for Nunavut, 2003).


Suicide rates in Nunavut also appear to follow a seasonal pattern (Chief Coroner for Nunavut, 2003). Male suicides peak in spring (March – May) and late fall/winter (October – November). Female suicides peak during the summer months (July – August)

Research Questions: 

Research Questions What are the demographic characteristics of the callers to the crisis lines (i.e., the local lines and the toll-free line) and the AIDS line? What types of calls are received by these lines? How do they vary by sex and age category? Among the distressed calls received by the lines, what types of personal problems are discussed? How do they differ by sex and age category?


4. What kinds of help did the NKHL volunteers provide to the callers to the different lines, and what kinds of services did they direct them to? Does the help differ by sex and age category of the callers? 5. What is the peak time of use? How long do the calls last? How does the frequency of use for the different lines vary with the months? For the local Iqaluit lines alone, how does the frequency of use relate to the moon phase and photoperiod in Iqaluit?


Methods Data collection Data was collected from 1991, 1993-2000 for the local crisis line From 1991, 1993-2001 for the toll-free line From 1996-2000 for the AIDS line 4,248 calls in total


Call sheets were photocopied and taken to Lakehead University for coding and analysis Caller and volunteer confidentiality was maintained throughout the process Some call sheets were written in Inuktitut, and translated by another member of the research team Coding categories Call information (date, duration, start time, type of line)


Caller demographic information Sex Male/Female Age category Child (12 and under), Teenager (13-19), Adult (20 and older) Region Baffin, Northern Quebec, Keewatin, Kitikmeot, Other Marital status Single, married, common-law, separated, divorced, other Living arrangements Alone, single parent, nuclear family, family of origin, relatives, non-relatives, other First language and Spoken language English, Inuktitut, French, English + Inuktitut, other


Type of call Distress Educational information Information about the Helpline Non-personal information Prank call Abusive call Wrong number Hang-up Personal calls (for volunteer) Testing of the line


Coding categories cont’d: Language as a barrier to service Type of help provided by volunteers Listening Giving suggestions on how to handle problems Directing caller to Legal services Law enforcement Clergy Elder Shelters for women/homeless Social services/social worker Psychiatric/psychological help Medical services Drug/alcohol treatment Call back Other


Distress calls were subject to a content analysis Distress categories: Suicidal thought/intent Distress over another’s suicide Substance abuse/addiction Lonely/bored Abused by others: physical/emotional, sexual Abused others: physical/emotional, sexual Parenting concerns Relationship concerns Psychiatric problems Trouble with the law Stress: work, school, financial Health issues, sexual health issues Bereavement Concern for others Other


73.63% inter-rater reliability was achieved for the content analysis Finally, daily meteorological data for Iqaluit was obtained Moon phase data Daily photoperiod (# of daylight hours per day)


Results The AIDS line was analyzed separately from the other two crisis lines (local and toll-free) because of their different mandates. The local and toll-free crisis lines were pooled together in the analysis (henceforth collectively referred to as “crisis lines”). Why? Because of the similarity in their mandate and to protect the confidentiality of callers from Iqaluit and other communities

The Crisis Lines: 

The Crisis Lines


From the Baffin region Females Adults (age 20+) Single Living within a nuclear family context Had Inuktitut as their first language but Spoke English with the NKHL volunteers Callers were primarily:


Northern Quebec (7.80%) Keewatin (4.53%) Kitikmeot (1.96%) And other regions (5.49%) that spanned from Nova Scotia to British Columbia Most of the “other region” calls were from Ontario Teens made more calls to the crisis lines than did the children Calls were also received from:


Most of the calls originated from the Baffin region (44.24%) Why? About half of the population lives in the Baffin region (City of Iqaluit, 2004). Low proportion of calls received from Keewatin (4.35%) and Kitikmeot (1.96%) does not parallel the distribution of the population in these regions


The listening stance adopted more often with adults than with the younger callers Female callers were more likely than male callers to receive suggestions on how to handle problems. Female callers more likely to be directed to the law enforcement, shelters for women/the homeless, medical services, and the social services/social worker.

The AIDS Information Line: 

The AIDS Information Line


From the Baffin region Males Adults (age 20+) Single Living arrangements varied from living alone to living with members of family of origin and living with non-relatives Language factor = hard to determine because 90% of call sheets had missing data on this factor AIDS line callers were primarily:


Northern Quebec (3.28%) Keewatin (2.19%) Kitikmeot (0.36%) And other regions (9.49%) “Other regions” = from B.C. through to Newfoundland Teens were equally likely to make calls to the AIDS line as the children Calls also came from:


Only about 14% of calls came from the Baffin region which has about half of Nunavut’s population (City of Iqaluit, 2004). Keewatin which has about 30% of the Nunavut population yielded only 2.19% of the calls. Many calls originated from outside of Nunavut and ranged from the west to the east coast.

Calls Relating to Abuse: 

Calls Relating to Abuse


Percentages of such callers to the crisis lines and AIDS lines are quite low. Physical and/or emotional abuse of the caller = 4.99% of crisis line calls, 4.37% of the calls to the AIDS line. Sexual abuse reported in 4.39% of the crisis lines calls and in 1.46% of the AIDS line calls.


Husbands and boyfriends were the most frequent perpetrators of physical and/or emotional abuse. Uncles followed by fathers and non-family individuals were the most frequent known perpetrators of sexual abuse.


Among the callers who committed physical/emotional abuse, the most frequent victims were their girlfriends. Among callers who committed sexual abuse, their victims ranged across the board from family members, boyfriend, to underage minor and stranger.


The crisis lines most active between 9 pm and midnight, peak = 10 pm - 11 pm. The AIDS line most active between 7:15 pm and 7:30 pm. On average, crisis lines calls lasted 17 minutes and the AIDS line calls 12 minutes.


Figure 1: Number of calls to crisis lines between 1991-2001


Figure 2: Number of calls to AIDS line between 1996-2000


Figure 3: Number of suicide ideation/intention calls to the crisis lines between 1991-2001


Figure 4: Number of calls by moon phase from 0 (new moon) to 1 (full moon) for the local Iqaluit line from 1992-2000)


Figure 5: Number of calls by photoperiod: local Iqaluit line

Limitations of the Study: 

Limitations of the Study The data collection over the years has not been consistent. There was considerable variation in the depth of details that were kept by the volunteers. The contents of the call sheets were filtered through the perception of the volunteers and not obtained directly from the callers themselves.

Conclusions and Implications: 

Conclusions and Implications


The findings from this study indicate that the crisis lines serve their purpose of providing community-based social and emotional support for the North. The AIDS line is used within Nunavut and attracts considerable use from across Canada as well. The NKHL volunteers provide a gamut of helpful interventions that range from emphatic listening to providing referrals and intervening actively (e.g., calling for the police) in cases that warranted such assistance.


However, the volunteers also are affected by prank and abusive calls, hang-up calls, and poor communication lines that break up calls. Although 85% of suicides are committed by males and the suicide rates peak among males who are between the ages of 15-19 (Chief Coroner for Nunavut, 2003), the crisis lines received more calls from females and from adults for primarily reasons related to personal distress. The AIDS Information Line was utilized more by males and by adults for informational purposes.


The lines (both crisis and AIDS line) were utilized by the young primarily for prank and abusive calls, possibly out of boredom. Those who are most in need, i.e., the young males, may not using the NKHL lines sufficiently for their benefit and that the young people who do, do so for the wrong reasons. Future research could be carried out to investigate strategies to better reach the young people.


Acknowledgments Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Northern Scientific Training Program Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs Northern Studies Program – Lakehead University Dr. Michael Wesner, Lakehead University Student Research Assistants: - Ashley Kallos - Allison Gliddon - Mandy McMahan - Andrea Wrzecionek - Shannon Plumpton - Bonnie Frost

Patterns of Use of the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line: 

Patterns of Use of the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line Tan, J.a,b, Maranzan, A.b, Boone, M.a,b, VanderVelde, J.a,c, & Levy, S.c aCentre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs bLakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON cNunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line

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