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article image11 suicide attempts in 1 day finally gets Native community help

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 11, 2016 in Health
The community of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario is reeling today after 11 people attempted suicide in one day. The community has long been plagued by suicides but Saturday's count was unprecedented; some reports say it was the result of a suicide pact.
Native suicide crisis
None of the attempts — there may have been 13 in total — were successful but the cry for help is ongoing in the community. Elders there say they have not been receiving the kind of medical help they need and a request made by council last October for aid went unheeded. However, after Saturday's grim toll, Chief Bruce Shisheesh and council declared a state of emergency and at last help is on the way.
The community of about 2,000 people has been plagued by suicide attempts for years now but in recent months the numbers have grown astronomically. Since September, Vice News reports, 101 peoples in the isolated community have attempted to kill themselves, often by drug overdose.
Only one was successful — Sheridan Hookimaw, a 13-year-old girl, killed herself in October. Suicides and suicide attempts are commonplace in many First Nations communities including, most recently, northern Manitoba’s Pimicikamak Cree Nation, a community also under a state of emergency. As with non-aboriginal suicides, the great majority are males but females are also taking their owns lives.
Help for community
There are two medical teams either now in Attawapiskat or on the way. The Nishnawbe Aski Nation, of which Attawapiskat is one of eight members, has sent a crisis response team including mental health counselors and health workers. The province is sending its Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT), consisting of nurses and social workers.
The crisis in suicides among First Nations is not only happening in Native communities. The off-reserve native population has a much higher percentage of suicides than the non-aboriginal population. On Monday, the Globe and Mail published an in-dept article on the tragedy, including in it some of the reasons it is occurring and what is being done about.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called these recent events in Attawapiskat "heartbreaking" and vowed to work toward improving the lives of indigenous people in Canada.
More about native suicide crisis, suicide attempts, first nations communities, Trudeau
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