Inquest targets key areas for action plan

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In October, Nunavut held a two-week inquest into suicide. More than 30 witnesses testified, including families who have lost children to suicide, social workers, psychologists and other professionals.

The jury’s key recommendations are to declare a state of emergency and designate a cabinet minister responsible for suicide prevention. Funding was targeted as the major obstacle to putting the action plan to work.

The jury made several other recommendations, including:

  • Create a secretariat to spearhead suicide prevention activity for the territorial cabinet by April 2016;
  • Immediately embark on a public awareness campaign to de-normalize suicide;
  • Include material on creating safe environments in school curricula by the end of the current school year;
  • Develop an action plan to address the high rate of student dropouts;
  • Pilot community-based grief support networks;
  • Create a public service campaign against marijuana and alcohol abuse, targeted at youth, and create staff positions for youth and addictions counselling by September 2016;
  • Establish a formal protocol for following up with people who have attempted suicide;
  • Amend the territory’s Mental Health Act to allow family members to be “connected and immediately involved” after a suicide attempt, regardless of the person’s age;
  • Develop culturally relevant programming around relationship building, coping and parenting skills and anger management by September 2016;
  • Boost federal funding to fast-track the Nunavut Housing Corporation’s action plan to reduce suicide; and
  • Develop a national suicide prevention strategy by 2017.

Suicide Resources:

Kamatsiaqtut Help Line
1-800-265-3333 or (867) 979-3333 (Inuktitut, English)

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

Kids Help Phone
1-800-668-6868 or 1-866-APPELLE in Quebec (French)