The three candidates vying for the Iqaluit Centre seat in the Oct. 27 Nunavut election agreed at a forum Monday night that suicide is a major issue that can't be addressed by one level of government alone.

Suicide has long been one of the most serious social problems in Nunavut, with suicide rates several times higher than the national average.

"I lost a brother to suicide in 1999," candidate Madeleine Redfern told about 60 reporters and members of the public at Monday's all-candidates forum, hosted by the Association des francophones du Nunavut.

"We as a family weren't getting the help that he needed … nor the system or the teachers. we need to find ways in which that our people in our society do not lose that hope."

Fellow candidate Joe Sageaktook said he wants more money and resources to be invested in social services and mental health programs.

"There's a big turnaround in the [Health and] Social Services Department," he said. "You may talk to one person one time and you get so far, then you go back and then you have to talk to another person. That's no good."

Health and social services are currently under one department. Incumbent candidate Hunter Tootoo said it may be time to make them separate departments.

"In such a huge department of Health and Social Services, it always seems to be the forgotten child," he said.

"So there may [be] ways to try and streamline things, or split things up so that certain areas get the attention that they need."

Since Nunavut was formed in 1999, more than 230 people in the territory of nearly 30,000 have committed suicide.

Twenty-four suicides were reported in 2007, according to the territory's chief coroner's office.