The Nova Scotia native band shaken by the suicide attempt by a group of boys last week is asking for help after making national headlines.

Five boys aged nine to thirteen took part in a dramatic suicide attempt on the Membertou reserve last week and Band Council member Bernd Christmas says the band is pleading for help from the community to try to deal with this disturbing situation.

"The situation I'd say is extremely serious," Christmas says. "It has got to be dealt with that way and it just can't be brushed off by anyone."

He suggests the blame rests in large part on the reserve system. He likens reserves to an apartheid system that separates natives from the rest of society.

"If they see that their parents have no hope they're not going to have any hope," Christmas says. "So what we need to do is somehow change that course. And if we can change that course, we're going to save some lives here. This is just the tip of the iceberg."

The Membertou band is asking the Federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs to meet this week to discuss the problem in detail and to try to come up with possible solutions.

Specifically, the band says it wants money for specialized counsellors and ongoing support programs for the community.