Focus on suicide

By Geoff Lee

November 1, 2016 12:00 AM

The suicides of six First Nations youth, ages 10 to 14, from North Saskatchewan communities in October has prompted a call for action from Lakeland College.
Instructor Tom Groat is spearheading a First Nations youth suicide crisis forum at the Lloydminster campus on Nov. 3 with prevention as the main focus.
“It’s just getting people to talk about the crisis that’s out there and what we can do to try to alleviate what’s happening,” said Groat.
“So obviously, a greater understanding of things that First Nations are facing—and hopefully through that discussion there will be some solutions and it will improve.” The event will take place from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room BK218 at Lakeland.
The scene for the forum will be set with an audio visual presentation highlighting the current suicide crisis in First Nations’ youth in Saskatchewan.
“Right now it’s a topic that needs discussion because of the alarming rate of teenage suicides in our First Nations is totally disproportional to Canadian averages,” said Groat.
Saskatchewan has the highest suicide rate in Canada among the 10 provinces, with 14.2 suicides per 100,000 population from 20009-11, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.
“At this I think at this point it would be beneficial to look at what are the social and economic detriments that are affecting these young people and what are some steps or things that we can do to prevent further suicide situations from occurring in First Nations,” said Groat.
A panel of speakers will address the issues including Onion Lake elder Verna Buffalo Calf, and Lakeland native studies professor Albert Berland.
The speaker list includes Melva Tootoosis, a counsellor at the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre, and Lloydminster MLA, Colleen Young.
Invitations have also been sent to other stakeholders such as Women Warriors, the Lloydminster Public School Division and the City of Lloydminster.
“I’m trying to get a wide range of people that are stakeholders—this is an epidemic,” said Groat.
“If we had a cholera epidemic breakout or something along those lines, I am sure the community would be quick to react to that or politicians would be quick to react to that.”
The forum might also include a couple of suicide survivors who will share their stories.
The format of the forum on youth suicide will include brief comments from each panel member followed by an open microphone to answer questions from the floor.
The forum will also be of interest to Groat’s students who just finished a study unit on social and mental health.
“It’s a real crisis right now and I guess I’m trying to bring a little light to it,” said Groat.
Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people between 15 and 34 years of age in 2009 according to Statistics Canada.

More News

LCSD hosts archbishop

The Lloydminster Catholic School Division (LCSD) had a special guest this week, as Archbishop Richard Smith toured multiple schools. more »

Falk talks first session in House of Commons

Battlefords-Lloydminster member of Parliament Rosemarie Falk is back in her constituency for the summer. She held a summer office open house this week for people to have a tour, drop by for a conversation,… more »

Health council opens channels

We have your back on healthcare. That’s what the Yellowhead East Health Advisory Council (HAC) told local and area residents during its latest meeting at the Lloydminster Hospital on June 20. more »

more »