Saskatchewan

23 child deaths reported in 2014: Sask. Children's Advocate

Youth suicide and self-harm continues to be a major concern in Saskatchewan, with three deaths and 18 critical injuries reported in 2014, the province's children's advocate says.

Number of deaths down, but critical injuries up compared to 2013

Saskatchewan's Children's Advocate has released his annual report for 2014. (CBC)

Youth suicide and self-harm continues to be a major concern in Saskatchewan, with three deaths and 18 critical injuries reported in 2014, the province's children's advocate says.

Advocate Bob Pringle's annual report, released Thursday, noted that there were 23 deaths of children and young people who were in the province's care or receiving government services.

That's down from the 26 deaths recorded in 2013.

Three of the 23 deaths were suicides, while 16 of the 41 critical injuries were suicide attempts, the 2014 Children's Advocate's report says. (2014 Children's Advocate Annual Report)

However, the number of critical injuries has gone up — to 41 from 34. Of the critical injury reports, 44 per cent were suicide attempts or self-harming incidents.

"Notably, suicide and self-harm continues to remain persistent themes that carry over from 2013," Pringle's report said. 

"Of the total number of critical injuries, four were youth who had incurred more than on critical injury and all four of those youth had attempted suicide more than once."

Of the 41, 38 were receiving services from the justice ministry or the corrections and policing ministry.

"Our office ... will continue to closely assess and evaluate the delivery of services to youth in the youth justice system to ensure that the Ministry of Justice, Corrections and Public Safety is adhering to its policies," the report said.

Pringle said he was "deeply concerned" with the planned closures of open custody programs such as Yarrow Youth Farm and Orcadia Youth Residence.

Those facilities are better able to provide more "therapeutic environments" needed to address suicide-related behaviours than closed custody facilities, like Kilburn Hall Youth Centre, he said. 

Read Children's Advocate Bob Pringles annual report.

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