Nunavut Youth Suicide Prevention

Authors

  • Halime Celik

Abstract

“If the populations of ‘mainland’ Canada, Denmark and the United States had suicide rates comparable to those of their Inuit populations, national emergencies would be declared” (Upaluk Poppel, 2005). Nunavut has the highest rate of youth suicide in Canada, and yet there are very few resources allocated to solving this problem. From 1993 to 1997, the suicide rate in Nunavut was 88 people per 100,000, compared with 13 for the rest of Canada. The suicide rates for Inuit men in Nunavut are ten times higher than the national rate in Canada. Inuit youth end their lives for various reasons, some of which are preventable. This research investigates the potential causes of suicide in Nunavut and analyzes various factors such as colonization, residential schooling, poor parenting, violence, and alcohol abuse. Initiatives by both government and non-governmental organizations have been aimed at lowering suicide rates by, for example, limiting the means of suicide. Suicide rates in the UK were drastically reduced when the government replaced the use of toxic coal with non-toxic natural gas for domestic use, so people could no longer poison themselves by putting their heads in the gas ovens. I argue that, although this may be a way to reduce suicide rates, it is a temporary solution which does not address the root causes of the problem. I make policy recommendations for some of the problems that the Nunavut population currently faces.

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