(Saskatoon, SK, Treaty Six Territory) – The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) wants action from governments in dealing with the crisis of youth suicide in the province.

Today the FSIN Executive called for both levels of government to collaborate with First Nations in addressing the high rate of suicide that is most prevalent with the youth in First Nation territories.

“The high suicide rate, especially amongst young people, is a huge concern for First Nations communities in Saskatchewan and across the country,” said FSIN Vice Chief Bob Merasty.

This past Saturday, there were 11 suicide attempts in the community of Attawapiskat in Northern Ontario. Attawapiskat First Nation recently called for a state of emergency.

“We stand with Attawapiskat and all communities that are faced with these serious mental health crises and tragic suicide outbreaks. With Saskatchewan having the third highest high rate of suicide in the country, we need to get working together to prevent the incidences of suicide before we end up in a state of emergency,” said Vice Chief Merasty.

In northern Saskatchewan Aboriginal people make up 85 per cent of the population; the suicide rate is three to six times the national rate.

“Canada’s First Nations youth are crying out for help,” said Vice Chief Merasty. “There is a strong need for community capacity at the ground-level that should be focussed on prevention so that we may begin to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Recommendations in a meaningful way. We must include a culturally responsive strategy to make any positive strides in alleviating this unfortunate tragedy.”

“Concrete solutions and tragedies to address youth suicide must include the voices of our youth and must be developed in partnership with First Nations communities in order to be effective,” said Vice Chief Merasty. “The FSIN has been engaged in the Assembly of First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum and will continue to support the recommendations as First Nations begin to strategize how to address the Mental Wellness needs of our First Nations youth.”

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