Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut January 26, 2017 - 8:30 am

Nunavut’s 2016 suicide death toll equals the previous year’s

“These are not just stats or numbers, they are people who lost their lives in a painful manner"

STEVE DUCHARME
Suicide prevention partners at Atausiuqatigiingniq Inuusirmi, the stakeholder summit for suicide prevention in Iqaluit, May 6. Left to right: Mike Jeffrey, commanding officer of RCMP's
Suicide prevention partners at Atausiuqatigiingniq Inuusirmi, the stakeholder summit for suicide prevention in Iqaluit, May 6. Left to right: Mike Jeffrey, commanding officer of RCMP's "V" Division, quality of life deputy minister Karen Kabloona, David Lawson from the Embrace Life Council and James Eetoolook, vice president of NTI. Nunavut RCMP report 32 suicides in Nunavut in 2016, the same number as 2015. (FILE PHOTO)

The number of suicide deaths in Nunavut continues to hold steady: Nunavut’s chief coroner confirms 32 people died by suicide in 2016, the same number reported in 2015.

That’s in line with the five-year territorial average of 32.8 deaths per year between 2011 and 2015, but still lower than the 45 completed suicides recorded in 2013—the highest yearly total recorded in Nunavut’s history.

“These are not just stats or numbers, they are people who lost their lives in a painful manner, in difficult circumstances. My heart goes for the families who lost their loved ones,” Nunavut’s chief coroner, Padma Suramala, said in a statement to Nunatsiaq News Jan. 23.

Suramala added that two other fatalities in 2016, not yet ruled as completed suicides, are still under investigation.

Nunavut police revealed another chilling number this week. According to RCMP “V” Division data, officers responded to 112 incidents in 2016 that they classify as attempted suicides.

That’s almost double the number of attempted suicides reported in 2015.

Of the 32 reported deaths by suicide in 2016—all between the ages of 15 and 49—one in four were female and three in four were male.

Iqaluit reported three fewer suicides this year than the eight reported in 2015, the largest improvement among Nunavut communities.

Other parts of the Qikiqtani region were less fortunate: Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Cape Dorset all experienced more suicides in 2016, while Pangnirtung reported its second suicide in two years.

No suicides were reported last year in Grise Fiord, Resolute Bay, Kimmirut and Qikiqtarjuaq.

In Nunavut’s regional hubs, Rankin Inlet reported three deaths in 2016, while Cambridge Bay recorded one.

The Government of Nunavut declared suicide a crisis in 2015, following the recommendations made by jurors in a special coroner’s inquest held earlier that year.

Nunavut’s suicide rates are about 10 times higher than the national average.

Since the coroner’s inquest, the GN has created a new position: associate deputy minister of quality of life.

The associate minister oversees the territory’s suicide prevention strategy and coordinates alongside other partners in the plan: the Embrace Life Council, the RCMP and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Karen Kabloona, who was appointed to the position of associate deputy minister of quality of life, said work in 2016 was a “mix of planning and delivery,” with a focus on drafting a long-term action plan for suicide prevention.

Last May, the partners released an interim action plan, “Resiliency Within,” and held a summit in Iqaluit for suicide stakeholders in Nunavut shortly afterwards.

“In August, we partnered with Ilisaqsivik Society in Clyde River to begin delivering Inuktitut counselling in communities by fly-in teams and toll-free phone line,” Kabloona told Nunatsiaq News in a statement Jan 24.

“Ilisaqsivik has developed a 500-hour certification program for Inuktut counsellors called ‘Our Life’s Journey.’ These certified counsellors are available now to travel to communities and provide support.”

If you are feeling distressed, you can reach the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line 24-hours a day at 1-867-979-3333 or, toll-free from Nunavik or Nunavut, at 1-800-265-3333.

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