Latest Child Advocate report calls for action on preventing youth suicide in the North
- EFN Staff | December 06, 2017
The provincial Advocate for Children and Youth released the special report on the youth suicide crisis in northern Saskatchewan. Corey O’Soup released a report titled ‘Shhh… LISTEN!! We Have Something to Say! Youth Voices from the North’ on December 5th. This report reflects a youth’s voice on the issue of suicide and the challenges Indigenous children, youth, and families face in northern Saskatchewan.
“The crisis of six young girls who died by suicide in northern Saskatchewan in October 2016 compelled our office to go North to listen and learn from the communities, families, stakeholders, and most importantly, our young people about this devastating issue,” O’Soup said in a media release. “The staggering rates of suicide amongst our Indigenous people is disheartening and is one of the many consequences of colonization and residential schools. The future of our youth is compromised when we ignore their needs. We cannot accept this and holding our government to account with immediate action is critical to help our young people.”
Saskatchewan has the highest rate of youth suicide among the provinces, according to data mentioned in the report: the rate of girls aged 10 to 18 dying by suicide has increased significantly from 2003 to 2014.
The report includes an engagement with northern Indigenous youth to help understand and learn from their experiences and realities when it comes to youth suicide.
The document includes themes to explain why youth may have thoughts about suicide, which concluded in five Calls to Action emphasizing the youth’s voices to provide a sense of wellness and to fulfill their right to reach their full potential. The Calls to Action includes suicide prevention plans from the federal and provincial governments along with the Federation of Indigenous Sovereign Nations (FSIN) and the Metis Nation – Saskatchewan. O’Soup calls on the federal government to provide equitable access to services and resources for Indigenous children and youth in the province by fully implementing and adopting Jordan’s Principle. Jordan’s Principle, a resolution that was passed in the House of Commons 10 years ago, acknowledges Indigenous children should be able to receive the same healthcare services as non-Indigenous children.
“We acknowledge that provincial, federal and Indigenous governments have taken a number of steps to increase support to youth since the tragic events of last October, including investments in mental health and public education,” O’Soup said. “While immediate financial supports are vital, these communities need sustainable resources and programs that they can rely on for years to come. Youth and their families need to be supported at all times and not only in periods of crisis.”
O’Soup said immediate action is needed to prevent more youth from dying as suicide continues to be a crisis. The immediate action involves full support from the federal and provincial and Indigenous levels of government.
“The youth have shown an incredible amount of courage here and we have an opportunity to do right by them,” he said.