Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 22, 2017 - 1:30 pm

Suicidal thoughts more prevalent among Inuit, Métis, First Nations: StatsCan

Likelihood of suicidal thoughts higher in poor households across Canada

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Suicide prevention partners at Atausiuqatigiingniq Inuusirmi, the stakeholder summit for suicide prevention held in Iqaluit in May 2015. Left to right: Mike Jeffrey, commanding officer of RCMP's
Suicide prevention partners at Atausiuqatigiingniq Inuusirmi, the stakeholder summit for suicide prevention held in Iqaluit in May 2015. 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. (FILE PHOTO)

Inuit, Métis and First Nations people living off reserve aged 15 or older are more than twice as likely as other Canadians to have seriously contemplated suicide in their lifetime.

That’s according to a Statistics Canada study, released March 22, which found suicidal thoughts were more prevalent among those groups (25.4 per cent) than in the non-Aboriginal population (11.7 per cent).

Poverty appears to be linked to suicidal thoughts.

In 2015, the likelihood of Canadians having contemplated suicide in the past 12 months varied by level of household income, StatsCan found, and was five times higher in poor households.

In households with an income under $20,000, 5.8 per cent of Canadians aged 15 or older had contemplated suicide in the past 12 months.

But when household income was greater than $70,000 a year, 1.7 per cent had suicidal thoughts in the past 12 months.

Of the 3.4 million people who have ever contemplated suicide in Canada, 26.5 per cent (or 900,000 people) reported having actually attempted suicide at some point in their life.

But among First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit who have ever contemplated suicide, that rate was nearly two times higher: 42.5 have also attempted suicide in their lifetime, the StatsCan study reports.

Earlier this year, Nunavut’s chief coroner confirmed 32 people died by suicide in 2016, the same number reported in 2015, and that the number of suicide attempts had increased.

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, and created a new senior management position: associate deputy minister of quality of life.

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

In May 2016, the partners released an interim action plan, “Resiliency Within,” and held a summit in Iqaluit for suicide stakeholders in Nunavut shortly afterwards.

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

Help is available in Nunavut: If you are feeling overwhelmed or distressed, you can call the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line at 1-867-979-3333 24-hours a day, in Iqaluit, or, toll-free, from Nunavik or Nunavut, at 1-800-265-3333.

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