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.
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)