Suicide Prevention: Current Problems

SK


December 5, 2019


States of Emergency

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations

Radio-Canada: Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller told Chief Ronald Mitsuing, that Ottawa would financially support the suicide-prevention strategy released last year by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan…billed as the first “decolonized First Nations-led approach” to suicide prevention and intervention in Canada.


May 20, 2020


Suicide Prevention Plans

Flaws in “Pillars for Life”

Regina Leader-Post – Given the fact that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of death by suicide of any province in the country, and that the suicide rate is increasing, the document is a travesty. Having read and assessed more than 100 suicide prevention strategies from around the world, I take no pleasure in saying that I have never read anything as weak as Saskatchewan’s. Not even close.” Jack Hicks.

National media attention has alerted Canadians to the gravity of the suicide situation in northern Saskatchewan. Teenage First Nations girls in this province die by suicide at a rate almost 30 times that of their non-Indigenous peers. How is that sharply elevated burden of suffering from a “largely preventable” public health problem not a matter of urgency for our society?

Asked about the province’s failure to act on the Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations Suicide Prevention strategy, Minister for Rural and Remote Health Warren Kaeding told a Star Phoenix reporter last week that “Suicide is a provincial concern,” and that “There is no one specific entity that we’re going to be able to fund along that line.”

Let us be clear. If white girls in this province had a suicide rate 30 times that of First Nations girls, concerted action would be taken. A very different suicide prevention strategy would have been released, with the funding required to ensure effective implementation.

The province’s strategy confirms the ongoing systemic racism in health care in Saskatchewan.


May 13, 2020


Suicide Prevention Plans

Flaws in “Pillars for Life”

The Star Phoenix – Jack Hicks, who helped draft suicide prevention plans for Nunavut and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, said the provincial government’s “Pillars for Life” strategy doesn’t have a clear path to implementation and sets goals that are “so vague as to be meaningless.”

Nor does it address the underlying reasons for high suicide rates among northern communities, Indigenous people or youth. The word “trauma” does not appear in the plan, which Hicks takes as a sign that First Nations and Métis concerns are not adequately represented. The document is only eight pages long, three of which are taken up by the bibliography and the introduction.

Hicks said it doesn’t get at the root of why Saskatchewan’s suicide rate, which was roughly double the national average in 2018, is so high in the first place.


December 5, 2019


States of Emergency

Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation

980 CJME (Canadian Press): Ronald Mitsuing, chief of Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in northern Saskatchewan says he is disappointed at the lack of long-term help from the provincial and federal governments to deal with what he says is a suicide crisis. The leaders are concerned about what they are calling “cluster suicides” in their community of Loon Lake, about 360 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

They say there have been three suicides, including one by a 10-year-old girl, in three weeks and eight suicide attempts, mostly by young people. The Opposition NDP has put forward a private member’s bill that would create a suicide prevention strategy. Its leader says the Saskatchewan Party government has failed to act on reducing poverty and developing economic opportunities in the north.

Band CEO Barry Mitsuing Chalifoux said an ongoing strategy would better help prevent suicide crises and give local governments ideas on what resources could be of help in their communities. The First Nation wants parenting programs and funding to hire additional supports in order to monitor its youth, he said.

In the fall of 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called several suicides by children in northern Saskatchewan a tragedy. Four girls between the ages of 10 and 14 had taken their own lives over a short period of time.


September 17, 2019


Suicide Prevention Plans

National Paper on Youth Suicide

The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) published “A National Paper on Youth Suicide” that calls on governments at the national, provincial and territorial levels to take concrete action to prevent youth suicide in Canada. Failure to address the multi-faceted issues impacting indigenous communities has led to a suicide epidemic.

The paper consolidates research by the CCCYA members that led to the identification of three broad findings related to youth suicide:

  • the impact of traumatic childhood experiences,
  • the importance of service integration and
  • continuity and how the voices of children and youth needs to be at the front of change.
    National Paper on Youth Suicide: Calls to Action

Calls to Action

  1. The Government of Canada develop and implement a fully resourced National Suicide Strategy with designated funding to the provinces and territories to create their own, or to support existing strategies where applicable. Whether at the federal, provincial or territorial level, young people must be included in all stages of development and implementation.
  2. The Government of Canada develop and implement a cross-jurisdictional, standardized, data system and to compel provinces in the mandatory reporting of attempted and completed suicide.
  3. The Government of Canada shall engage in meaningful partnerships with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities experiencing elevated rates of suicidal behaviour of young people and develop interventions to eliminate these health disparities. This work should draw on the leadership and expertise of Indigenous youth and Elders whenever possible.

http://www.cccya.ca/Images/english/pdf/CCCYA%20National%20Suicide%20Paper%20Final%20September%2025%202019.pdf


June 19, 2021


Suicide Prevention Plans

Rejection of Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Protection Act

Bill No. 618 — The Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Prevention Act introduced for the second time by NDP MLA Doyle Vermette was defeated by the ruling conservative Saskatchewan Party members who voted unanimously against the measure. “One of the key elements of Doyle’s bill was consultation with First Nations and Métis leadership, with community leadership, with families,” NDP Leader Ryan

Meili said. “And none of that went into the development of “Pillars of Life”. The bill would have required the provincial government to establish a provincial strategy that recognizes suicide as a not only a mental health issue, but a public health issue as well.

According to the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, 2,338 people have died by suicide from 2005 to 2019 in the province. Twenty-eight per cent of those people were Indigenous.


September 13, 2021


Suicide Prevention Plans

Walking with our Angels

CBC – The rejection of Vermette’s proposal led Tristen Durocher to walk 635 kilometers to Regina from Air Ronge in early July to raise awareness about suicide in the province. Once in Regina, he set up a teepee in front of the provincial legislature and started a ceremonial fast. His protest, which he called Walking With Our Angels, was a response to a suicide prevention bill put forward by the NDP that was voted down by the provincial government. He said his stay in front of the Saskatchewan legislature building has been educational.

“I learned a lot about the state of the Canadian public’s attitudes towards Indigenous people,” Durocher said. “And I learned a lot about how unwilling the government is to acknowledge a lot of problems that afflict the northern section of our province.” He added there are a lot of members of the public who are unwilling to “even take a baby step” toward the goal of reconciliation. “Our premier is one of those people because he did speak about reconciliation being a journey, we all need to work together while reconciliation was right across the road,” Durocher said. “And he didn’t do absolutely anything, he sent a few subordinates, he himself didn’t even acknowledge that we exist.”

“Reconciliation was right across the road and he refused to take a single step.”