Nunavut had near record-high suicides in 2011

Nunavut's coroner says there were 34 suicides last year in the territory, the second-highest number since 1999.

Second highest number since creation of territory

Nunavut’s coroner says there were 34 suicides last year in the territory, the second-highest number since 1999.

The youngest was 12 years old.

Natan Obed, acting president of the Embrace Life Council, says not enough is being done to ensure children grow up with the protective factors needed to help prevent suicides. (CBC)

Iqaluit had a record high of 11 suicide deaths last year. Nunavut's 37 suicides in 2003 remains the territory's record high.

Natan Obed, acting president of the Embrace Life Council, said root problems such as forced settlement, relocation, dog slaughters and residential schools all play a part in the territory's high suicide rate.

"We need to give people ways to come through adversity that perhaps we’re not giving to them now," he said.

The Government of Nunavut signed an action plan in September 2011 to lower suicide rates. The plan comes from Nunavut’s Suicide Prevention Strategy, which is meant to combat the reasons why people take their own lives.

There are also initiatives like the applied suicide intervention skills training which are being delivered around the territory. The program teaches how to recognize risk factors for suicide and direct people towards the help they need.

"The challenge we have now is that we're traumatizing our youth and our children," said Obed.

"We're not doing enough to support them, we're not doing enough to provide the foundation for our children to grow up in a place where they have all sorts of protective factors." 

The Embrace Life Council held its annual gala this past weekend, which raised $15,000. Obed said the council is in a state of transition, redefining its role.

"We’re going to be trying to be more of a focal point for people in the territory so that when they think about reaching out or helping or being involved in any way, that they can come to the Embrace Life Council," he said. "We can all do something to help prevent suicide."