There is fear more young people on the Attawapiskat First Nation will try to harm themselves as the northern Ontario community struggles to deal with a suicide crisis.

The chief there said 11 people tried to kill themselves on Saturday night in the remote community of nearly 2,000. In response, leaders declared a state of emergency.

A group of young people who appeared to be planning a group suicide were brought into the hospital to be assessed, said Crystal Culp, one of the relief nurses sent by the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, which is working with Health Canada to co-ordinate the response.

ONTARIO ATTAWAPISKAT SUICIDE EMERGENCY

Police brought the youths to the local hospital in Attawapiskat for an evaluation, but the hospital was too overwhelmed to see all of them at once and about half of them waited in jail for treatment, said Anna Betty Achneepineskum of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Culp noted some of the young people taken to hospital Monday night had already initiated steps to self-harm.

A forum with young people and mental health workers that was scheduled for Monday night was cancelled because so many young people were at the hospital.

Police watched over them — many between seven and 13 years old — as they spoke with mental health counsellors about their feelings of despair.

The young people say bullying, a lack of things to do and overcrowding are some of the reasons driving them to try suicide.

Culp said a couple of young people are still in hospital, but most were released Monday night.

Achneepineskum said the entire community in the James Bay region is so overwhelmed by the rash of suicide attempts that three of the four health-care workers have been sent to Thunder Bay for counselling and rest.

Amy Hookimaw

Amy Hookimaw, 13, says a lot of her friends on the Attawapiskat First Nation need support. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

There are concerns more will try to end their lives if the community doesn't get some long-term help.

There is fear more young people on the Attawapiskat First Nation will try to harm themselves as the northern Ontario community struggles to deal with a suicide crisis.

Thirteen-year-old Amy Hookimaw said some of her friends — some as young as six — have talked about harming themselves.

She said they tell her their self-esteem is low and they don't have much to do.

"Grade fours, fives, sixes — they say they want to kill themselves because there's a lot of people saying that. They always say that nobody cares about them."

Not many people are talking to reporters about the state of emergency, at the request of Chief Bruce Shisheesh.

Chief Bruce Shisheesh

Chief Bruce Shisheesh says it's been difficult, but he's trying to manage as his community of Attawapiskat near James Bay deals with a surge in suicide attempts. (CBC)

Shisheesh told CBC News that he and other leaders don't want to lose any youth or members of the community.

"It hasn't been easy to be strong and stay positive, because I keep thinking about our young people," he said Monday.

The community was expected to hold meetings on suicide prevention and talk about a long-term solution to the problems on Tuesday.

Culp said more help, including a traditional healer, another doctor and a nurse, is arriving in the community.

Reserve police are working round the clock, watching to ensure everybody stays safe.

Meanwhile, counsellors are brainstorming ways to help encourage youth in Attawapiskat.

Some of the ideas include developing a drug strategy and hosting more activities for young people.

Hookimaw said a lot of her friends need support.

"I just tell them that people do care and people do love you."

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Mental health counsellors are brainstorming ways to help encourage youth in Attawapiskat. Some of the ideas include developing a drug strategy and hosting more activities for young people. (CBC)

With files from Olivia Stefanovich