Saskatchewan

Group of youth from Black Lake, Sask., biking more than 1,400 km for suicide prevention awareness

Around 30 kids plus chaperones are biking more than 1,400 kilometres from Black Lake, Sask., to Lac Ste. Anne, Alta., to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

This is third annual event

The group cycles for about nine hours a day. (Tammy Cook Searson/Facebook)

Around 30 kids plus chaperones are biking more than 1,400 kilometres from Black Lake, Sask., to Lac Ste. Anne, Alta., to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

This is the third annual event of its kind. As of Thursday, the group had biked nearly 900 kilometres. They cycle for about nine hours a day. 

Jenalla Boneleye, one of the organizers, said the youth are opening up to each other more the longer the trip goes on.

"The gravel that they went through, the hills that they've been challenging, they've been riding against the wind and the rain, nothing is stopping them actually," she said. 

About 1,900 people in Sask. took their own lives from 2005 to 2017. Men accounted for 1,424 of those deaths, while 474 were women. Five-hundred eight were First Nations people.

Statistics Canada has also reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death for people from ages 15 to 34 in Canada.

The rates of suicide among First Nations people is more than four times higher the rest of the province. For First Nations girls, the rates are more than 29 times higher than the rest of the province, according to a report released by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

Boneleye said that Black Lake has a lot of issues like drugs and alcohol. It's also very isolated. Some of the kids on the trip have lost people to suicide or have struggled with those thoughts before.

"They're opening up with us and we're becoming a family," she said.

"I went through a lot of stuff myself, but it's not about me and I wanted to make changes because I did face suicidal thoughts and I wanted to help kids. There's a helping hand if you reach out."

With files from CBC News

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