Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik May 26, 2016 - 8:30 am

Nunavik community takes action against youth suicide

“We’re still in mourning"

SARAH ROGERS
Community leaders in Tasiujaq, population 300, have mobilized to draft a community plan which aims in part to prevent suicide and offer support and family to affected families. (FILE PHOTO)
Community leaders in Tasiujaq, population 300, have mobilized to draft a community plan which aims in part to prevent suicide and offer support and family to affected families. (FILE PHOTO)

Officials in the Nunavik community of Tasiujaq are working to draft a community action plan to address and prevent suicide in the Ungava Bay community of about 300 people.

In the first half of 2016, Nunavik has seen a higher-than-usual number of deaths by suicides: 11 between late December and mid-May.

Tasiujaq has been hard hit — two deaths earlier this month were local youth, which prompted an online fundraising campaign.

Nunavik officials are now responding to suicide attempts made in the region last week by a group of youth, who police said planned and attempted suicide together, unsuccessfully.

The community itself has mobilized different partners to draft a plan to help prevent further attempts, and to offer support and healing to affected families.

“We’re still in mourning at this moment,” said Tasiujaq mayor Billy Cain. “But we’re getting help from the health board.”

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services did not respond to a request for information on what support it has offered to the community.

Some Nunavimmiut fear there aren’t enough resources in the region of 14 communities to properly respond to the latest deaths.

Nunavik singer-songwriter Beatrice Deer has lent her voice to a growing number of Nunavimmiut who are calling on health officials to declare a state of emergency in order to attract more funding and political pressure to support the region.

For its part, the NRBHSS has said it has the support it needs from the Quebec government, including help to hire a number of additional front-line workers, including social workers, psychologists and counsellors, since this past winter.

And Quebec’s department of health and social services said it is prepared to offer more support if needed.

Nunavimmiut who are in need of support or have thoughts of suicide can call several toll-free numbers to speak to someone:

• Kamatsiaqtut Help Line 1-800-265-3333 (Inuktitut, English)

• Residential school crisis line 1-866-925-4419 (Inuktitut, English, French)

• Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868

• 1-866-APPELLE in Quebec (French)

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