Honouring Life Network Blog

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World Suicide Prevention Day 2011

Every year on September 10th people around the world raise awareness about the fact that suicide can be prevented.

In honour of World Suicide Prevention Day 2011, we are releasing our new documentary "Support" which is about the amazing youth hip hop program in the Baffin Island community of Clyde River. Click here to CHECK IT OUT!!

According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) an estimated 1 million people die each year by suicide. Preventing suicide in multicultural societies is the theme for World Suicide Prevention Day 2011 - a theme that is especially relevant to Canadians. Suicide rates in many of Canada's First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities are unacceptably high, especially rates of youth suicide. IASP points out that it can be easy to use cultural difference to explain differences in suicide rates, but in reality high suicide rates are linked to factors such as unemployment, poverty, oppression, marginalization and racism.

The Facts

  • Suicide and self-injury are the leading causes of death for First Nations people between the ages of 10-44 .
  • For First Nations males 15 to 24 years old, the suicide rate is 126 per 100 000 compared to 24 per 100, 000 for the same age group among the general population.
  • For First Nations women between 15 to 24 years old, the suicide rate is 25 per 100 000 compared to only 5 per 100 000 for non-Aboriginal women.
  • Inuit suicide rates are 11 times the national average, and 83 per cent of these people are under the age of 30 (ibid).
  • There are currently no Métis-specific statistics on youth suicide.
  • Statistics show that 60 per cent of all Aboriginal people who attempt and succeed in committing suicide are acutely intoxicated (drunk) at the time, compared to 24 per cent of all non-Aboriginal cases (ibid).
  • Youth suicide has tripled in Canada over the past 40 years .
  • Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15 to 24 year-old Canadians, second only to accidents; 4,000 people each year die by suicide in Canada (ibid).
  • Not all Aboriginal communities experience youth suicide. British Columbia researchers report that 90 per cent of the suicides take place in just 10 per cent of B.C. communities

What are some of the issues that contribute to suicide?

Suicide isn't usually caused by a single issue or event. It is usually the result of many combined issues that a person or community faces. Some risks factors that have been linked to suicide include:

  • Low self-esteem.
  • Depression.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Other known suicides in someone's peer group, family or community.
  • Feeling disconnected from family, peers, school and the community.
  • Unresolved grief or trauma, as a person or in a community.
  • A history of emotional, sexual or physical abuse.
  • Poverty.

Although these factors have been linked to suicide, they don't necessarily mean that people who have some or all of these traits will become suicidal.

How can I tell if someone is thinking about suicide?

There are danger signals that may appear in someone who is thinking about suicide. These signals include:

  • Past suicide attempts.
  • Saying things like, "I wish that I were dead" or "Life is hopeless."
  • Depression.
  • Changes in behaviour like giving away personal possessions or changes in spending habits.
  • Drastic changes in sleep patterns like either over-sleeping or not sleeping.
  • Changes in eating patterns like either overeating or having no appetite.

What can Aboriginal communities do to deal with the issue of suicide?

Aboriginal communities can do many things to help reduce the risk of suicide. They can:

  • Develop school activities that focus on self-esteem and mental well-being.
  • Hold community-wide cultural activities and healing ceremonies.
  • Make sure that professionals such as community workers, doctors and teachers in the community are trained in suicide prevention.
  • Offer substance abuse programs.
  • Offer treatment and counselling services as well as peer support and mentoring programs.
  • Monitor suicidal individuals.

Suicide can be prevented. The key is to open up and talk about it, not just on September 10th, but throughout the year.

The HLN website has lots of different resources that can help you, your family or your community talk about suicide:

If you or a friend are in crisis and need help right now please call one of these numbers for immediate assistance:

  • Nation Wide: Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (24hrs)
  • Ontario Crisis Intervention Centre: 1-888-757-7766 (24hrs)
  • Manitoba Suicide Line: 1-877-435-7170 (24hrs)
  • Province Wide BC Crisis Line: 1-800-784-2433 (24hrs)
  • Alberta Mental Health Board Help Line: 1-877-303-2642
  • New Brunswick Help Crisis Line: 1(506)859-HELP (4357) (24hrs)
  • Newfoundland Mental Health Crisis Centre Health and Community Services: 1-888-737-4668 (24hrs)
  • Nain Help Line: 1(709)922-2277
  • Prince Edward Island Help Line: 1-800-218-2885 (24hrs)
  • Saskatchewan North East Crisis Intervention Centre: 1-800-611-6349 (24hrs)
  • Nova Scotia Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team: 1-888-429-8167 (24hrs)
  • Yukon:Kaushee's Place Crisis Line: 1-867-668-5733 (24hrs)
  • NWT/Nunavut: Helpline Western Arctic: 1-800-661-0844 (7pm-11pm)

For a list of more helplines available nationwide visit The Centre for Suicide Prevention