'Quit ignoring the north': La Ronge families speak out during premier's visit
6 girls have committed suicide in northern Saskatchewan over past several weeks, locals say more help needed
Dave Larsen says he's relieved his daughter lived to raise her own children.
Over the past several weeks, six girls between the ages of 10 and 14 have committed suicide in northern Saskatchewan. As a single parent, Larsen said recent events have hit close to home.
"You thank God that your daughter's this old and that she survived those crucial years that they seem to be doing it to themselves," said the La Ronge, Sask., resident.
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Today, Premier Brad Wall is in La Ronge to talk about the suicides with local leaders. Larsen said more mental health support is desperately needed.
"Quit ignoring the north," said Larsen. "This is where all the resources are, other than grains. Help us out, because we're sending a lot of money down to you."
Now grown, Larsen's daughter, Sherri Chantalle, thinks there's a lot at stake: "Our future," she said, looking at her son playing nearby, "Our children's future."
'I am horrified as a parent'
Many parents in La Ronge are struggling to find the words to talk to their children about the suicides.
"Start with the truth," said Jody Sylvestre, who has three children. Her 12-year-old daughter went to school with some of the girls who took their own lives.
"The absolute truth of once you're dead, you're dead. I've always had this motto of being completely honest with my kids when it comes to difficult things to talk about."
While Sylvestre said it was difficult talking about these issues with her own children, dealing with the issue at school is even more challenging.
"Everybody's just kind of on edge with everything," she said. "I know the teachers must be a lot more scared than we are as parents because losing another classmate and dealing with 20 other students is a lot harder than dealing with a child at home."
Sylvestre thinks many young people need a better outlet for their emotions.
"They need to be taught how they can vent healthily," she said.
Last week, Wall said the government was looking at all options, and that suicide-prevention strategies were being developed with school divisions and health regions.
With files from Devin Heroux