First Nation in Manitoba declares emergency over youth suicide

A suicide prevention walk was held on the Cross Lake First Nation in Manitoba in early March 2016. Photo from Pimicikamak Cree Nation Community Fundraiser / Facebook

The Cross Lake First Nation in Manitoba declared an emergency earlier this month in response to a suicide crisis on the reserve.

According to news reports, six people, most of whom were in their teens and 20s, have taken their lives since December. More than 140 others have attempted suicide or have expressed suicidal thoughts.

“Aboriginal people are in crisis in Canada,” Chief Cathy Merrick told The New York Times.

The band, like other First Nations, lacks adequate health care services. There only one full-time mental health worker on the reserve, the Times reported, making it nearly impossible to deal with the large numbers of young people who need help.

The band asked Health Canada for at least six mental-health workers and other health professionals, CTV reported. The agency's allocation for the reserve, which has a Native and non-Native population of 7,000, is about $840,000, according to the Times. That amounts to about $120 per person.

Get the Story:
Despair and resilience of Indigenous youth in the face of a suicide crisis (CBC 3/20)
Wave of Indigenous Suicides Leaves Canadian Town Appealing for Help (The New York Times 3/19)
More help on the way for Manitoba First Nation reeling from suicides: Philpott (CTV 3/10)
More details emerge about suicide crisis at Pimicikamak Cree Nation (CBC 3/10)
First Nation declares state of emergency over suicide epidemic (CP 3/9)

An Opinion:
Editorial: Reactive measures not a solution to Cross Lake suicide crisis (McGill Daily 3/21)

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