Assembly of First Nations National Chief Expresses Need to Support Indigenous Youth on World Suicide Prevention Day
(Ottawa, ON) – On World Suicide Prevention Day, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo reminds First Nations and all Canadians of the importance of empowering and supporting Indigenous peoples across the globe to drive efforts toward healthy living and community-based suicide prevention. “At five to seven times higher than overall suicide rates in Canada, First Nations young people need every support required for its prevention,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. “Our young people are the most powerful voices in our nations, and they need and deserve every opportunity to achieve success. By empowering the youth to lead, to support their voices and actions, we will lift our nations up in a way that we will all benefit from the strength and success of our peoples and communities.” National Chief Atleo participated in an event on Parliament Hill today coordinated by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
As recognized by the World Health Organization, World Suicide Prevention Day promotes global commitment and action to prevent suicide, raising awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death.
“First Nations continue to develop and implement preventative strategies, but much more still needs to be done,” said National Chief Atleo. “While communities are their own best resource when it comes to prevention and wellness planning, support for effective partnerships and collaborations is required to achieve safe and secure First Nation communities. AFN continues to urge the federal government to support multi-year funding to communities with program flexibility that allows for the development of best and promising practices that focus on culture, healing and wellness that can be learned and shared.”
In partnership with Health Canada and Indigenous mental wellness leaders, AFN is working to describe a coordinated continuum of mental wellness services comprehensive and inclusive of First Nations. The First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework will focus on all current mental wellness programming including those aimed at suicide prevention and intervention. This builds from the work already done by the First Nations and Inuit Mental Wellness Advisory Committee and Chiefs resolution 55-2012. In 2011 AFN hosted a national Youth Mental Wellness Forum aimed at supporting and enhancing youth empowerment and resiliency, specifically referencing the importance of a 2011 report by the Ontario Chief Coroner regarding youth suicides in Pikangikum First Nation. The report included a total of 100 recommendations in the areas of education, policing, child welfare and health care, with a particular focus on the development of suicide prevention strategies.
AFN will be hosting a National Youth Summit in Saskatoon November 18-21, 2013.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.