On the Fort Severn First Nation in Ontario. Photo: Premier of Ontario Photography
Canada | Health

First Nations seek more resources to address suicide crisis among youth

Leaders from First Nations in Ontario are seeking short- and long-term solutions to deal with a suicide crisis on their reserves.

According to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, 18 people have taken their lives since January, the Canadian Press reported. Four occurred in just the last week -- two 12-year-olds on the Pikangikum First Nation, a 15-year-old on the Nibinamik First Nation and a 21-year-old on the Fort Severn First Nation.

“It’s becoming overwhelming,” Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler told The Toronto Sun.

The Wapekeka First Nation is among the communities affected. Three 12-year-old girls have died by suicide since January and 10 percent of youth on the reserve are considered at risk for suicide, CBC News reported.

"We don't have enough personnel to keep watching people on a 24/7 basis that are at high risk, we try, but we just don't have the resources," Joshua Frogg, the manager at Wapekeka , told CBC.

Yet 24/7 care is what is needed to address the crisis, according to a new report from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. First Nations need "sustainable funding" for a wide range of health, mental health, housing, education and employment programs, members of Parliament said after a year-long study on the issue.

"We need to send a message to Indigenous Canadians, and especially to young Indigenous people, that their lives have value, that they matter, and to hold on to hope," MaryAnn Mihychuk, a member of Parliament who chairs the committee, told CBC.

Health Canada told the Canadian Press that it is working with the affected communities and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, an organization that represents 49 First nations in Ontario.

Read More on the Story:
Health Canada offers support in wake of recent suicides in northern Ontario (CP 7/8)
Four suicides in northern Ontario First Nations communities this week: spokesperson (CP 7/7)
Northern Ontario First Nations grieve four lost to suicide (The Toronto Star 7/6)
Four more Indigenous youth take own lives in Northern Ontario, sparking calls for actions (The Globe and Mail 7/6)
Wapekeka First Nation declares state of emergency in wake of suicides (CBC 6/21)
3rd girl involved in suicide pact dies in remote Ontario First Nation (CBC 6/14)

An Opinion:
Editorial: Indigenous youths keep taking their own lives, and we keep looking away (The Globe and Mail 7/9)