Suicide numbers in Nunavut in 2013 a record high

The number of suicides in Nunavut rose to a record level in 2013 with young men most at risk, yet some youth in the territory say they're not getting the mental-health support they need.

Nunavut youth decry lack of help for those thinking about suicide

Nunavut 2013 suicide numbers a record high

8 years ago
Duration 2:46
CBC's Jordan Konek reports from Iqaluit

The suicide total in Nunavut rose to a record level in 2013 with young men most at risk, yet some youth in the territory say they're not getting the mental-health support they need.

In 2013, at least 45 people died by suicide, according to the territory's chief coroner.That's the highest number recorded since the territory was created in 1999.

The suicide rate among Nunavut Inuit is 13 times the rate in the rest of Canada, according to Nunavut social researcher Jack Hicks. The rate among young Inuit men in Nunavut is 40 times the rate of their peers in Southern Canada. 

Nonetheless, young people who want help say they're not satisfied with the services that are available. 

One young woman told CBC News she went to the local health centre for help, but was directed to the church. Then the church directed her back to the health centre.

Linda Airut says the same thing happened to her. She is from Igloolik but now lives in Toronto.

"They only wanted to report the cops on me. I didn't want to talk to the cops," Airut said. "They wanted to help only if there was something serious, like cut my arm or something, like they would want to see if I'm mentally ill."

Kelly Fraser, who is from Sanikiluaq and now lives in Cape Dorset, said she got support after her father took his life. 

She says she developed a trusting relationship with that counsellor, but then he moved away.

Elders have also been helpful, but Fraser said that when some young people try to get professional help, it's not always available.

"If it's someone that isn't equipped or professionally trained with that kind of thing, then I wouldn't feel comfortable being directed," she said.

CBC News asked to speak to Nunavut's Department of Health but a spokesperson said no one was available at the time.


  • The original version of this story stated that the rate of suicides in Nunavut was 13 times the national average. In fact, the number of suicides among Nunavut Inuit is 13 times the national average.
    Jan 10, 2014 12:37 PM CT


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