Suicides among deaths investigated by Children's Advocate
A new report from the Saskatchewan Children's Advocate has shed light on suicides among teenagers who've received services from the province.
According to Bob Pringle's annual report, released Thursday, his office closed investigations on 36 deaths in 2011, including 13 deaths of youths who were between 16 and 18 years old. The deaths occurred between 2006 and 2011.
"Nearly half of the youths in the 16-18 age group committed suicide," the report said.
Most of the youths who died were First Nations.
In one case, an 18-year-old man hanged himself after previously attempting suicide and threatening suicide on at least three other occasions.
When the man was a minor, the Social Services ministry had been trying to help him to access mental health and addictions treatment, the report said.
"Unfortunately, the youth had opted to withdraw from receiving services and once he turned 18, the ministry had no legal mandate to continue service," the report said.
Of the 36 death files closed in 2011, seven were suicides.
Pringle says the reports of suicides are disturbing and indicate the province needs to develop more supports for youth with addiction and mental health problems.
He also said simply putting children from troubled families into foster care is not the answer. The focus should be on keeping them in their homes and working the families, he said.
According to the report, the Children's Advocate Office conducts independent investigations into the deaths and critical injuries of children who, either individually, or with their families, have received services from provincial government ministries and agencies.