Sexually exploited youth often experience depression as a result of a myriad of factors ranging from past trauma, the experience of lack of belonging, objectification, violence, substance abuse, street entrenchment, fear, and physical health issues. Signs of depression in sexually exploited youth are:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Decreased school attendance
  • Sleeping late or all day
  • Self-harm
  • Substance misuse
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts

Often these behaviors can lead to mislabeling of youth as deviant, lazy, or trouble-makers. Support these youth to address the underlying issues of these behaviors through connection to resources or being a supportive, caring person in their lives.


Sexually exploited youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to have considered or attempted suicide than non-exploited youth.

If you suspect a youth is at-risk of suicide:

(1) If imminent, make any attempt to get youth to the local emergency room. Contact 911 if need be.

(2) The Child and Youth Crisis Response Program completes suicide risk assessments. They accept referrals from Emergency Room staff, school counsellors, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Child and Youth Mental Health staff or health professionals. For general inquiries or referral information, please call: (604) 587-4600.

(3) Contact local Child and Youth Mental Health for referral to counselling. (604) 870-5853.