Nunavut resident wants new focus on suicide prevention

A Nunavut woman says the high rate of suicide shows current prevention strategies aren't working.

Six people have died in Iqaluit so far this year

A Nunavut woman wants the territory to step up its efforts to prevent suicides in the territory.

Lissie Anaviapik of Iqaluit recently lost a relative by suicide. She knows the pain of losing a loved one who's taken their own life, and it's not the first time she has experienced such a loss.

"Could be anger there, could be like, it’s so unfair, so there are all different kinds of emotions stirring up inside you. It's so unfortunate, but yet it's still happening," Anviapik said.

There have been 13 suicides in Nunavut since January, which is twice the rate of last year.

Nunavut's Chief Coroner Padma Suramala said it's worst in the Baffin region, including Iqaluit.

"Baffin region is affected more by the suicides in number and especially in Iqaluit. As of today I have six regarded suicides in Iqaluit," Suramala said.

The age ranges, but most are young. The youngest this year was 13 years old. Most recently, two high school students died by suicide.

School principal Terry Young said officials are trying their best to offer support.

"Sometimes the issues rise again and we have to be prepared to give students support. It could be a month, it could be six months, it could be a year, so we always have to have a process in place for follow-up when necessary," Young said.

Suicide prevention strategies have been developed in Nunavut, but Lissie Anaviapik said they’re not helping.

She said a northern Ontario community recently declared a state of emergency to try to get help to deal with its high suicide rate. Anaviapik said Nunavut should do the same.