Arctic Council looks at measuring success in suicide prevention

Delegates from the Arctic Council talked suicide prevention in Iqaluit on March 1 and 2.

The United States-led initiative wraps up in May

Throat singers perform at the RISING SUN workshop. RISING SUN stands for Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups - Strengths United through Networks. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Delegates from the Arctic Council talked suicide prevention in Iqaluit on March 1 and 2.

It was the third and final meeting of the Rising Sun initiative, a follow-on from the mental wellness project completed during Canada's two-year tenure as council chair from 2013 to 2015.

When the U.S. took over the chairmanship, they wanted to keep the momentum on the issue, says Dr. Pamela Collins, the initiative lead.
Dr. Pamela Collins is the Associate Director for Special Populations at the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the U.S. National Institute of Health. (Travis Burke/CBC)

"Our idea was to think about what are the best ways to come to some consensus on how we can evaluate suicide prevention interventions in the Arctic," she said.

The two-day workshop reviewed communities' understanding of suicide in the Arctic, hearing from researchers, youth and community experts.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed presented takeaways from the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, published last year in Canada.

"We've already tried to incorporate the best practices from other jurisdictions in the work we do here in Canada," he said.

In the last two years, Obed says the the council tried to advance suicide prevention by looking at the challenges of measuring the success of different approaches.
Natan Obed said that creating social equity, cultural continuity and investing in young people with Inuit-specific mental health services were takeaways from the national strategy. (Travis Burke/CBC)

"Suicide prevention is subjective in nature. There aren't universals truths that everyone in the world agrees upon."

A report will be published before the chairmanship of the council transfers from the U.S. to Finland in May.