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Nanaimo woman wins award for work with Vancouver Island Crisis Society

The ‘small, but mighty’ team received over 43,000 calls last year
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The supervisors at Vancouver Island Crisis Society joined Elizabeth Newcombe on stage in Las Vegas on May 5, as she received the crisis service award from the American Association of Suicidology. (Photo Submitted/VICS)

A Nanaimo woman was honoured by the American Association of Suicidology for her work with the Vancouver Island Crisis Society.

The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) awarded Elizabeth Newcombe the 2024 crisis service award on May 5, during the association’s 57th annual conference in Las Vegas, Nev. Newcombe attended the award ceremony in Las Vegas with a team of five supervisors.

“I just felt so proud of my team. We say ‘we’re small but mighty,’” Newcombe, executive director of Vancouver Island Crisis Society (VICS), of her 35-strong team, with 25 of those who take calls as crisis-line operators.

“My distress centre alone, we took over 43,000 calls last year.”

As a small, independent centre, the recognition means a lot for Newcombe, who has been in crisis support for 31 years.

A new year brings new challenges, and in 2024, VICS will continue to expand, with plans to create a 24/7 text line. Currently, it only operates from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

VICS has boosted crisis line capacity and standardized services for its crisis intervention centre.

“Under Elizabeth’s leadership, VICS has excelled in crisis intervention. Her dedication to initiatives like the Crisis Line Enhancement Project sets a high standard,” Leeann Sherman, AAS president, said in a press release.

The Crisis Services Award winner is selected based on the quality, effectiveness, community impact and resilience in addressing challenging behavioural health needs.

The American Association of Suicidology is the world’s largest membership-based suicide prevention organization. It was founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman.

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