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Nunavut coroner’s suicide inquest delayed until 2015

Nunavut’s Chief Coroner Padma Suramala says the discretionary inquest she had initially planned to hold this fall will now take place early next year.
Padma Suramala, Nunavut's chief coroner, called an inquest into suicides in the territory, after the number of deaths by suicide in Nunavut hit a record-high in 2013. The inquest will now take place in early 2015. (Vincent Desrosiers/CBC)

A major step toward understanding the nature of suicide in Nunavut has been delayed.

The territory's Chief Coroner Padma Suramala says the discretionary inquest she had initially planned to hold this fall will now take place early next year.

At a press conference in Iqaluit this morning, Suramala said the original timeline is simply not feasible, partly because it's an issue people often do not want to talk about.

“There are challenges regarding participants testifying at the inquest due to the sensitivity surrounding suicides,” she says.

This year alone, 19 Nunavummiut have taken their own lives, including an 11-year-old boy in Cape Dorset last week.  

Last year there were 45 suicides across the territory — the highest number yet recorded — which prompted Suramala to call an inquest into three cases.

She will now look into five suicides that each share certain risk factors to provide suggestions for better suicide prevention.

Suramala would not say which cases will be investigated.

The coroner also made a distinction between discretionary and mandatory inquests.

She says her office does mandatory inquests into all deaths that happen while a person is in custody.

In late November, she’ll hold an inquest into one suicide that happened in Igloolik while a man was held in one of the community’s RCMP cells.

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