On April 16, 2016, it was reported that five more teenagers tried to take their own lives among a Canadian community of native people. The tragedy unfolded in the Attawapiskat First Nation, according to first-hand reports by Chief Bruce Shisheesh.
The Attawapiskat are a small Cree community located in the northern reaches of the province of Ontario, on James Bay. The community consists of about 2,000 people. These five attempts at suicide involved teenage children of unreported ages and are the latest in an ongoing epidemic among the group.
Because of the proportion of the crisis, the Attawapiskat people decreed a condition of emergency last Monday, April 11, concerning these tragic events. Chief Shisheesh said that, at that time, the triage resources were expended, and there was no apparent imminent help from outside sources. A day after this declaration, an alleged suicide pact among 13 young people was uncovered. This deadly agreement included a nine-year-old child.
Not including the attempts of April 16, 101 members of the aboriginal group have attempted suicide since the fall of last year. This amounts to about five percent of the entire group.
According to Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, this area does not have decent health care, nor adequate housing. The limited availability of clean drinking water is also a major concern. These particular aboriginals are a poor people and rank among the poorest of the native inhabitants of Canada.
By Bob Reinhard
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Reuters: Five more suicide attempts in Canada aboriginal community in crisis
CBC News: Desperation in Attawapiskat, where First Nation leaders fear for the young
World Socialist Web Site: Attawapiskat First Nation declares state of emergency over attempted youth suicides
GAIA GPS: Attawapiskat First Nation
New York Times: Suicides Plague Attawapiskat First Nation in Canada
Photo Courtesy of Krisztina Tordai’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License