The Current

As suicides rise in indigenous communities, calls for a national strategy grow

A mental health crisis is taking place in indigenous communities as the number of suicides grow alongside calls for support from the government to address the issue.
In some First Nations communities, the suicide rate for children under 15 is more than 50 times the national average. (CBC)

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Six people have died by suicide since December in the Manitoba First Nations community of Pimicikamak, which has a population of fewer than 6,000. In the high school, 170 students are on suicide watch. 

Canada-wide, the stats among First Nations communities are no better — compared to the national average, men under 20 are 10 times more likely to die by suicide and women of the same age group are 20 times more likely. 

It hurts me, it saddens me, that my future is dying right in front of me. It needs to be addressed. There has to be a national strategy and we must be part of that process.- Jonathan Solomon says communities should be involved in resolving the suicide issue, but they need official help

When searching for the cause of these suicides, leaders say they look to the inequality felt within their communities. Between poverty and a lack of resources, young First Nations people are lacking hope — on top of which are the self-esteem issues and bullying commonly experienced at that age. 

With this mental health emergency taking place in Pimicikamak and across First Nations communities, the calls for a national strategy are growing in a race to save lives.

Guests in this segment:

This segment was produced by The Current's Marc Apollonio, Sujata Berry, and Lara O'Brien.