High suicide rate persists in Nunavut: coroner

Suicide continued to be a major social ill for Nunavut in 2007, the territory's chief coroner says.

Suicide continued to be a major social ill for Nunavut in 2007, the territory's chief coroner says.

Tim Neily said there were 24 suicides in Nunavut last year — a high figure, but sadly not unexpected, he said.

"Certainly there is some variation from year to year," Neily told CBC News on Wednesday.

"However, going back to the year 2000, we generally have 26, 28, 29 suicides each year — with one terrible year in 2003 of 37 suicides — so our suicide numbers are fairly consistent."

Since Nunavut was formed in 1999, more than 230 people in the territory of nearly 30,000 have taken their own lives.

There have already been two suicides so far this year, Neily said.

But despite the grim numbers, he said he is optimistic about the future.

Neily is working closely with Nunavut researchers conducting a study that follows up with the families and friends of Nunavut suicide victims to find out more about the causes.

He said he believes the study's results will present an accurate picture of suicide in Nunavut, and eventually lead to positive changes.

Meanwhile, one Inuit association has been approved for a second year of funding for its Inuit youth suicide prevention program.

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association will receive $93,800 from the Embrace Life Council to be used for programs that aim to engage youth in the region in meaningful activities, such as traditional camping trips.