Huge Number of Suicide Attempts Force Canadian Indigenous Community to Declare State of Emergency
The chief and council for the Attawapiskat First Nation—"People of the parting of the rocks" from the Swampy Cree (Omushkegowuk) language on remote James Bay, Canada—have declared a state of emergency due to the overwhelming number of attempted suicides in the community of only 2,000 indigenous people. The Cree community has been experiencing a spike of suicide attempts over the past eight months -- over 100 members, of all ages, have tried to take their own lives. 28 attempts were in March alone.
The Candian Broadcasting Company reports that amongst the dozens of suicide attempts, the youngest person was 11 years old, while the oldest was 71. One person died last September. Many First Nation people struggle with depression, high unemployment and drug abuse.
Attawapiskat First Nation's Chief Bruce Shisheesh told the CBC, "I have relatives that have attempted to take their own lives ... cousins, friends." He believes the attempts are linked to issues including overcrowding, bullying, addiction and the continuing impact of residential schools. "These people are feeling the pain," he says.
The news from Attawapiskat is heartbreaking. We'll continue to work to improve living conditions for all Indigenous peoples.— Justin Trudeau (@Justin Trudeau)1460331418.0
Les nouvelles d'Attawapiskat me brisent le cœur. Nous continuerons de chercher à améliorer les conditions de vie de tous les Autochtones.— Justin Trudeau (@Justin Trudeau)1460331397.0