Wednesday, September 11, 2013

suicide prevention day

Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day, which Nunavut celebrated as Embrace Life Day.  Communities across Nunavut held various activities to mark this important day, including Cambridge Bay, which is holding week-long events and activities to provide support to the community and raise awareness.

gathering at the community hall to open the ceremony with a prayer in Inuinnaqtun 

As many know, suicide is a particularly troubling issue that people in Nunavut struggle with.  The statistics are shocking. Last year, 27 people died by suicide in Nunavut, which is a staggering number when you consider the entire territory has a population of 34,000, that of say, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The suicide rate of Inuit youth is 11 times the national average and one of the highest in the world.  Some of these youths that commit suicide are as young as eleven years old.  And each of these deaths hits the communities hard.  This past year, I remember a particularly bad time when a young man committed suicide here in Cambridge Bay, shortly after a woman had been killed in a fire. The two funerals happened on the same day, and on that very day, another man also committed suicide in town.  The cause of this problem is complex, a result of many factors including poverty, mental health issues, abuse, alcoholism, colonialism, and not enough support systems in place to deal with them.  There are no quick and easy solutions, but publicly showing one's support is an important step to helping people realize they are not alone.

One of the events that Cambridge Bay held for Embrace Life day was a candlelight civil, a march that led throughout the whole town. I was pleased to see how many people showed up to participate, people of all ages marching together




a camera man taking footage of the vigil