Current Problems

Suicide Prevention

Flaws in “Pillars for Life”

May 20, 2020

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.