Advocate for Children and Youth Releases Special Report on the Youth Suicide Crisis in Northern Saskatchewan
December 05, 2017
La Ronge – The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, Corey O’Soup, released the special report, Shhh… LISTEN!! We Have Something to Say! Youth Voices from the North. This report reflects a youth perspective of and voice on the issue of suicide and the challenges Indigenous children, youth and families face in northern Saskatchewan.
“The crisis of six young girls who died by suicide in northern Saskatchewan in October 2016 compelled our office to go North to listen and learn from the communities, families, stakeholders, and most importantly, our young people about this devastating issue,” O’Soup said in his report.
The experiences of Indigenous young people today and the pressures they face are different from that of previous generations. The objectives of the report focus on engaging with Indigenous youth in northern Saskatchewan to better understand youth suicide from their experiences and realities, and to honour their voice as part of this understanding.
“The staggering rates of suicide amongst our Indigenous people is disheartening and is one of the many consequences of colonization and residential schools. The future of our youth is compromised when we ignore their needs. We cannot accept this and holding our government to account with immediate action is critical to help our young people,” said O’Soup.
The report covers themes identifying why young people might think about suicide, resulting in several Calls to Action reflecting what the youth stated as important to providing a sense of wellness and to fulfilling their right to reach their full potential.
“This continues to be a crisis and we need to take immediate action to prevent more young people from dying while waiting for help. This involves full support from the federal, provincial and Indigenous governments, along with our professionals, families and communities. The youth have shown an incredible amount of courage here and we have an opportunity to do right by them,” says O’Soup.
The report also includes five Calls to Action made by the Advocate, which include both the provincial and federal governments partnering with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and Métis Nation – Saskatchewan to develop and further support new and existing suicide prevention plans. This effort should include, where necessary, collaboration between various government departments and/or financial support. The Advocate also asks that the federal government put an end to the inequities faced by Indigenous children and youth in Saskatchewan by fully implementing Jordan’s Principle. Finally, he calls for the provincial government to formally adopt Jordan’s Principle and support Indigenous communities in accessing resources available under the Principle.
“We acknowledge that provincial, federal and Indigenous governments have taken a number of steps to increase support to youth since the tragic events of last October, including investments in mental health and public education,” O’Soup said. “While immediate financial supports are vital, these communities need sustainable resources and programs that they can rely on for years to come. Youth and their families need to be supported at all times and not only in periods of crisis.”
The Advocate for Children and Youth is an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. He leads a team of professionals who work on behalf of the province’s young people. Our vision is that the rights, interests and well-being of children and youth are respected and valued in our communities and in government legislation, policy, programs and practice.
To get an electronic copy of this special report, please visit: www.saskadvocate.ca.
For more information contact:
Lisa Broda, Deputy Advocate (306) 933-6700