Canada’s indigenous suicide crisis

The Lancet World Report Vol 387 June 18, 2016

obedSpeaking at a conference on Indigenous health issues in Toronto in late May, Natan Obed, leader of the 60 000 Inuit who lay claim to a third of Canada’s vast landmass, reprised his people’s plight: shortened life expectancies, a high infant mortality rate, high rates of tuberculosis, widespread food insecurity, dangerously inadequate housing, and shockingly deficient local health care. But it was when Obed turned to the topic of suicide that the 750 people in the audience felt the full wintry force of his Arctic reproach: according to the Canadian Government, suicide rates in the four Inuit regions are more than six times higher than the rate in non-Indigenous regions. Among Inuit youth, suicide is responsible for 40% of deaths, compared with 8% in the rest of Canada.

But as Obed noted, these figures — which are drawn from Canadian Government data that include non-Indigenous as well as Inuit people living in Canada’s far north – substantially misrepresent and understate the problem…

…For Obed, the suicide crisis is rooted in a group of risk factors including the fact that Inuit people are eight times more likely than other Canadians to live in overcrowded homes. “Many of our households do not have enough to eat, he added, “and that has a huge impact on mental and physical health.” The Inuit also lack access to basic health-care facilities and addiction treatment programmes, Obed said. Add to that very high rates of mental trauma rooted in forced resettlements, forced residential schooling, and high rates of sexual abuse and childhood adversity, Obed noted, and, “if you are Inuit, chances are you are growing up in a community with high risk factors for suicide”…


Categories: Indigenous

2 replies »

  1. When people in Greater Vancouver buy million dollar bungalows, they might finance the purchases at less than 3%. When some people in the far north need to buy groceries, they may have to use payday loans at interest rates as high as 600% on an annualized basis.

    Our economic system allows the strong to victimize the weak while our political leaders and celebrities wear pink shirts occasionally and pretend to be against bullying.


  2. there has been no political will to ensure the health and welfare of First Nations People. The various levels of governments may talk a good game, but they simple are not willing to put up the money. There are solutions to the problems regarding inadequate housing, there is simply no political will. For years housing in the north has been inadequate. the houses which have been sent north aren’t up to northern standards.

    We Canadians can look south and feel smug, but we are no different than our neighbours to the south when it comes to prejudice.

    When I was a kid I did not understand the lack of action to improve the living conditions in the north/First Nations people and now here I am an old person and its still bad and it is still at some level beyond me how this all continues.

    Liked by 1 person

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