Boozhoo. We hope that everyone is well and staying safe in these unprecedented times of living with COVID-19.
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Mental health and well-being is very important for all. The Medicine Wheel is often used by many First Nations to demonstrate the importance of balancing overall health for individuals and communities; that is, the balance of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness. Many First Nations believe that these four areas of wellness are interconnected which is why it’s so important for individuals and communities to seek healthy ways in self-care.
The Centre for Suicide Prevention states (via Health Canada 2010) that the suicide rate for First Nations male youth (age 15-24) is 126 per 100,000 compared to 24 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous male youth. For First Nations females, the suicide rate is 35 per 100,000 compared to 5 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous females. The centre also states”Historically, suicide was a very rare occurrence amongst First Nations and Inuit (Kirmayer, 2007).” While First Nations peoples’ strength and resiliency is powerful and compelling, the legacy and effects of colonization have impacted many First Nations communities over time.
First Nations (Indigenous) peoples and communities have experienced residential schools, day schools, the 60’s Scoop, relocation, and loss of identity, culture, lands, spirituality, traditions, and language. All of these can have intergenerational effects which is defined as the “transmission of historical oppression and its negative consequences across generations” (Source: “Intervention to Address Intergenerational Trauma: Overcoming, Resisting and Preventing Structural Violence” by Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth, YMCA Calgary and University of Calgary). Important work is being done in many First Nations communities around mental health, suicide awareness and prevention.
An important message shared across suicide awareness and prevention is no one is alone. There is always someone out there who is available to listen and to help such as a parent, caregiver, grandparent, relative, school counsellor or Elder, and local (mental) health centres. Additionally, there are many online/phone resources. Here are a few:
- The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week offering counselling and crisis intervention Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca. If requested, counselling can be made available in Ojibway, Cree and Inuktitut.
- Klinic 24 Crisis Line: 1-888-322-3019
- Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line: 1-877-435-7170 (1-877-HELP170)
- Kids Help Phone: (national line available to Manitoba Youth) 1-800-668-6868
- Prairie Mountain Health: Crisis South Adult crisis line 24/7: 1-888-379-7699 & Youth Under 18 crisis line 24/7: 1-866-403-5459; Crisis North Adult and Youth Crisis Line (24/7): 1-866-332-3030 *See their website for more information such as non-crisis numbers
- Centre for Suicide Prevention – Indigenous Suicide Prevention: https://www.suicideinfo.ca/resource/indigenous-suicide-prevention/
- World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference by FNHSSM 2021: https://wispc2021.ca
These are just a few resources that are available to anyone requiring mental health support(s) and/or seeking more information on such supports. *FNT2T Life Long Learning has no affiliation to listed resources.
Take care, stay safe. Resist and revitalize. Miigwetch.