CANADA: Searching for an Indigenous-Driven Approach to Suicide Prevention

March 31, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

BBC News

Indigenous leaders and health workers in Canada are calling for a long-term strategy to address suicide in their communities. A recent community health survey released by Statistics Canada found that suicidal thoughts and behaviors were approximately twice as high among indigenous respondents compared to non-indigenous respondents. According to public health experts, multiple factors place Native communities at increased risk for suicide, including lack of access to mental health services and a collective history of trauma and social inequity. To address these sources of risk, indigenous practitioners emphasize the importance of drawing on local skills and knowledge to develop culturally competent approaches to mental health promotion and suicide prevention. Michael Kirlew, a family clinician in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, said that the most effective programs combine traditional indigenous culture with conventional mental health treatment.

Spark Extra! Read findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2015.