Reuters Oct 19, 2016
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – A 10-year-old girl took her own life on Tuesday, the fourth Aboriginal child to do so this month in a poor, remote region of Canada, the top chief in the province of Saskatchewan said.
The girl was from Deschambault Lake, some 460 kilometers (286 miles) northeast of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, said Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, an Aboriginal political group in Saskatchewan.
Her death follows three others in the province this month, Cameron said, adding that he did not have any further details.
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.
Canadian Press has reported that two girls from Stanley Mission and one from La Ronge, all between the ages of 12 and 14, committed suicide earlier this month.
The federal health department has begun sending three mental health therapists to Stanley Mission and La Ronge weekly, and this will continue through December, said spokeswoman Maryse Durette. The department was looking into the latest suicide, she said.
Provincial health staff are working to identify other youth who may be at risk, spokeswoman Karen Hill said.
The suicides reflect a need to “improve the quality of lives,” Cameron said, including better education, housing and mental health.
Earlier this year, a poor Ontario Aboriginal community, Attawapiskat, declared a state of emergency after a rash of suicide attempts, and a Manitoba indigenous community also appealed for federal help after suicides.
The problems plaguing remote indigenous communities gained prominence in January when a gunman killed four people in La Loche, Saskatchewan.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Grant McCool and Sandra Maler)