North

Nunavut residents share 'remarkable' stories of suicide resilience

Suzanne Sagmeister says its been 'remarkable' to hear Nunavummiut share their personal struggles with suicide and turn that 'pain into purpose' for new book.

Suzanne Sagmeister still looking for elder, youth to share suicide experiences in new book

Suzanne Sagmeister, a photographer from Alberta, has already met with about 8 people in Iqaluit, including Jimmy Akavak. She still hopes to hear from an elder and youth before she leaves Iqaluit on Tuesday. (Submitted by Suzanne Sagmeister)

When self-described 'suicide survivor' Suzanne Sagmeister meets new people a simple handshake won't do. 

"I like a hug," she says. "I need as many as I can get." 

The photographer arrived in Iqaluit last week to collect personal stories about how suicide is affecting people in the North and she says she's already made some "remarkable" connections.

She's hoping to collect the photos and stories she's received from people across the country in a book called Life After Dark

"To be able to connect with them and watch them turn their pain into purpose by sharing their stories is just remarkable," says Sagmeister. 
Miali Buscemi is one of at least eight people in Iqaluit to speak with Alberta photographer Suzanne Sagmeister about suicide. (Submitted by Suzanne Sagmeister)

Like many people in Nunavut, Sagmeister says she's been touched by suicide her whole life — even as a six-month-old infant when her father was nearly killed by a person who purposefully swerved their vehicle in front of his speeding ambulance. She later learned that the person wanted to end their own life.

"Of course I didn't understand at six months of age the impact that that suicide had on my dad and then a ripple effect into our family until now. I look back and I understand the connection we all have."

Sagmeister says she still hopes to speak with a young person and an elder before she leaves Iqaluit Tuesday. 

"There's a lot of secrecy, a lot of silence."

Sagmeister says her book will be available next fall.

She says people can reach her by phone at 780-805-6817 or by email at hope@conspiracyofhope.ca.

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