Reuters, Apr. 16, 2016
Suicide attempts rise in Canada aboriginal community in crisis
Five children tried to take their own lives Friday evening in a Canadian aboriginal community of 2,000 that has declared a state of emergency over repeated suicide attempts, its chief said.
Chief Bruce Shisheesh of the Attawapiskat First Nation in the province of Ontario confirmed the news in a brief telephone conversation on Saturday. It was not immediately clear how old the children are.
The remote northern community declared a state of emergency last Saturday after 11 of its members attempted suicide in one weekend and 28 tried to do so in March.
About a dozen teenagers in the community attempted suicide on Monday, after the declaration.
Regional and federal governments sent healthcare workers to the community in response to the state of emergency.
Canadian legislators held a special parliamentary session Tuesday night to address the suicide attempts, calling them “completely unacceptable” and vowing steps to keep them from happening again.
Canada’s 1.4 million aboriginals, who make up about 4 percent of the country’s population, have higher levels of poverty and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians and are more often victims of violent crime, addiction and incarceration.
Canada’s Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said in a statement on Friday she would visit the community.
Shisheesh tweeted hours later: “Busy night at the hospital … pray for Attawapiskat.”
(Reporting by Ethan Lou in Toronto; Editing by James Dalgleish)