June 1, 2017
Breaking Point: The Suicide Crisis in Indigenous Communities
Report of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Testimony from witnesses provided members with a deeper understanding of the ways in which the suicide and mental distress, along with the social determinants of health, such as housing, educational attainment, poverty and unemployment affect Indigenous peoples. Addressing the social determinants of health was identified by witnesses as critical to improving people’s day to day lives in communities. In addition, the Committee heard from Indigenous youth, that addressing the root causes of mental distress in Indigenous communities, including issues related to discrimination and access to health services through community-led solutions is critical. Importantly, the Committee heard that community involvement in service delivery, and increasing community control over local services (as known as cultural continuity) is a key factor in suicide prevention.
When First Nations communities assume greater control over their economic, health, social, policing and educational services and have retained the use of Indigenous languages and related cultural infrastructure, they experience lower rates of suicide, overall.
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples documented that rates of suicide among Indigenous peoples have dramatically increased. At the time of writing in 1995, the Commission estimated that:
- The national rate of suicide among Indigenous peoples was three times higher than the general public, or non-Indigenous Canadians, and
- That the rate of suicide among Indigenous youth was five to six times higher than non-Indigenous youth.
Sadly, research indicates that these figures remain unchanged over the past three decades.
Breaking Point presents 27 recommendations under three broad categores:
- Self-Determination and Reconciliation (3)
- Social Determinants of Health (12)
- Mental Health Services (12)
The following link has the federal government responses to all 27 Breaking Point recommendations: