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Develop a National Strategy to help combat and lower Indigenous suicide rates

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The current state of affairs in a small First Nations community in Northern Ontario with a population of about 2000 named Attawapiskat reinforces the urgent and pressing need for a National Strategy to lower and ultimately combat the extremely high and disproportionate rates of Indigenous suicide. 

Early last April, 11 people in Attawapiskat tried to commit suicide in one night. [4] Among them was a 10 year old girl. A state of emergency due to the suicide epidemic in the small community of Attawapiskat was declared almost a year ago yet nothing drastic has been done to target and solve this problem ensuring long term and future success. 

The rate of suicide in Indigenous communities is 100 per 100,000 people while the rate among Canadians is 10 per 100,000 people. This number makes no sense as the population of Indigenous peoples is only 4.3% of the total Canadian population. Canada is rated to be one of the countries with the best standard of living yet so many people are still suffering. 

Attempting to combat these dramatically high rates of Indigenous suicide would lead to the acknowledgement of the unique underlying factors that can lead to suicide when it comes to Indigenous populations; a report conducted by Statistics Canada concluded that Indigenous suicide could be correlated with the residential school experience [1].  This would lead to the recognition of the different inequalities and challenges Indigenous peoples face. Suicide is a choice that one has to make on their own but as a society we can help address the different underlying causes behind the disproportionately high suicide rates of Indigenous peoples in Canada which may lead to more people making a DIFFERENT choice. Indigenous people are still being affected by colonialism and the aftermath of colonialism can definitely be correlated with the dramatically high suicide rates in Indigenous communities [2].  In addition, the Residential school experience has been linked to high rates of mental illness, child abuse and family breakdown in Indigenous populations, all of which are associated with suicidal thoughts [3]. On October 28 2011, Attawapiskat  declared a state of emergency due to a housing crisis their small community was facing. 5 years later in April of 2016, a state of emergency was declared in the same place but this time due to a suicide epidemic; it is obvious the two are correlated and one cannot be fixed unless the other is addressed. Ideally, by creating a National Strategy addressing the disproportionately high Suicide rates in Indigenous communities the root causes contributing to this issue will be acknowledged. Reconciliation and resolution cannot be achieved unless they are addressed. 

We are pleading with the Government of Canada, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the Minister of Health to collaborate with the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, the Indigenous communities, the Chiefs Councillors and the Councillors of the various bands of Canada and develop a National strategy to address the disproportionately high Indigenous Suicide rates.


[1] Statistics Canada. 2016. "Lifetime suicidal thoughts among First Nations living off reserve, Métis and Inuit aged 26 to 59: Prevalence and associated characteristics".

[2] The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2016. "Suicide among Indigenous Peoples in Canada". 

[3] Aboriginal Healing Foundation. 2007. "Suicide Among Aboriginal People
in Canada"

[4] CBC News. 2016. "Dying from hopelessness': Attawapiskat desperate to stop suicide pandemic"

[5] Global News. 2016. "Attawapiskat’s suicide emergency is no surprise to anyone paying attention"



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