'Don't keep it all inside,' says First Nation youth at Saskatoon suicide prevention conference
Hundreds attending Ignite the Life conference
Seventeen-year-old Chasity Thomas says her First Nation of Pelican Lake, Sask., is not immune to the suicides plaguing northern and Indigenous communities.
She's one of more than 500 youth attending the Ignite the Life conference at the Saskatoon Inn Thursday and Friday.
The idea for the conference was sparked by the wave of suicides in northern Saskatchewan last fall.
Thomas spoke with the CBC's Jason Warick during a break.
This interview has been condensed.
CBC: Chasity, why was it important for you to come here today?
Chasity: Suicide's a big problem nowadays. If we don't reach out today, it may be too late tomorrow.
CBC: Has suicide affected you, your family or your friends?
Chasity: Yeah, I lost a couple of family members to it.
CBC: Can you tell me about it?
Chasity: Recently, actually, I lost a cousin [two months ago]. My mom phoned me at the house. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. We went to the hospital and they talked to us. … We just kept together, helped each other out, never left each other alone after it happened.
CBC: What does it mean to see all these people here?
Chasity: It's really powerful.
CBC: What advice would you have for people struggling with this?
Chasity: Don't keep it all inside. Let it out. Cry once in a while. That would help. Talk to your teachers or anyone you're used to, like friends.
CBC: Do you think things are going to get better or worse?
Chasity: I am hopeful, actually. All you have to do is reach out.
If you need help
Mental health resources are available through the HealthLine at 811.
The federal government set up a toll-free number for First Nations and Inuit people who are experiencing mental health issues: 1-855-242-3310.
If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
Here are some of the warning signs:
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Substance abuse.
- Feeling trapped.
- Hopelessness and helplessness.
- Mood changes.