NAHO and Health Canada press release ...┬
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 9, 2008) - Today, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, was joined by the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) CEO Dr. Paulette Tremblay to unveil a new Web site to help combat suicide among Aboriginal youth. Called the Honouring Life Network, the site is targeted at both Aboriginal youth and suicide prevention workers in First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities.
Health Minister Tony Clement, Minister Strahl, and NAHO CEO Dr. Paulette Tremblay presented the site to media and guests at a lunch hour press conference in the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Ottawa.
"Suicide among Aboriginal youth is an urgent matter," stated Minister Clement. "I am very proud that the Government of Canada has funded this innovative tool that will help First Nations, Inuit and Metis youth rediscover the joy of life, and let them know that there are resources available to help them through difficult times," added the Minister.
Health Canada provided funding for the Honouring Life Network Web site under the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, a five-year $65 million strategy that seeks to increase protective factors and reduce risk factors associated with suicide through community-based programming.
"Suicide is a grave problem in our communities, one that affects our youth at vastly disproportionate rates from the rest of Canada," said Paulette Tremblay, CEO of NAHO. "We believe that the Honouring Life Network will be an invaluable tool for those working to prevent suicides in our communities."
Available in English, French and Inuktitut, the site contains resources for youth and youth workers, including a Youth Worker's Forum where youth workers from across the country can connect to discuss and share suicide prevention resources and strategies. Personal stories and fact sheets are also available for youth to read about specific issues that they, or their friends, might be facing. The site's comprehensive directory of suicide prevention resources is updated regularly to help youth workers in Aboriginal communities find the most relevant and up-to-date information and material.
The Web site stemmed from a joint working group of the Indian Health Service in the United States and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada.
For more information, please visit the Honouring Life Network Web site. (http://www.honouringlife.ca/)
The National Aboriginal Health Organization is an Aboriginal-designed and -controlled body committed to influencing and advancing the health and well-being of Aboriginal Peoples through knowledge-based strategies.
For more information, please contact
Office of the Honourable Tony Clement
Federal Minister of Health
Manager, Communications and Research
Direct: 613-237-9462 ext. 228
Toll-free: 1-877-602-4445 ext. 228
Kerry Benjoe - April 09, 2008
REGInA -- The federal government is hoping to reach aboriginal youths in crisis through the Internet.
The National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) launched the Honouring Life Network (www.honouringlife.ca) on Wednesday. The Web site targets First Nation, M├ętis and Inuit youths and offers them personal stories, resource tools, links to organizations and information on the prevention of suicide.
In a prepared statement Health Minister Tony Clement said suicide among aboriginal youth is an urgent matter.
"I am very proud the government of Canada has funded this innovative tool that will help First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis youth rediscover the joys of life, and let them know that there are resources available to help them through difficult time," he said.
The Kahkewistahaw First Nation has been working to address this issue for years and health workers believe they have found something that works.
"A Web site is good, but how many people on reserves have a computer?" said Kiran Kashyap, mental health therapist for the Kahkewistahaw First Nation.
Kashyap believes the rate of suicide among aboriginal youths can be turned around if they are given a sense of hope. She said there is a need for more grassroots programs that are youth-centred.
The First Nation developed a drama program for the youth and have found that it has had a positive effect on everyone in the community. Last month the youth group created its own play based on a Greek tragedy, which dealt with suicide. It was the youths who decided to tackle the sensitive issue because they wanted to bring the topic out into the open.
"They said, 'Why don't we do something on suicide because no one talks about it?' " recalled Kashyap.
She said it was very important to not only talk about suicide but to provide the youths with the tools to help them become leaders and role models. The students received special training so that they could recognize when someone is in trouble and how to talk about suicide.
"Let's bring it out in the common and the issues behind suicide, family dynamics, dysfunctional families, abuses and the traumas we go through when we are young," said Kashyap.
Christine McKay, director of health for Kahkewistahaw, said because rates are so high, most of the youths involved in the drama program have been touched by suicide. McKay said it's important for caretakers to reach out to young people.
"Listen to them, praise them, because they need all of that," said McKay.
The First Nation has also tried to connect with the youth through focus groups and surveys. Each year the health branch on the reserve meets with the youths to find out what's on their minds and to see what they are thinking. McKay believes the work the reserve has done is paying off because suicide is not as common as it once was on Kahkewistahaw.
According to NAHO the rates of suicide in Canada have been on a decline, but this is not the case for aboriginal people. The suicide rate in aboriginal communities is about twice the national average.
In 1999, suicide statistics for those living on reserve showed 27.9 deaths per 100,000 for aboriginal people aged 10 to 44. The national average for the same time period and age group was 13.2 deaths per 100,000. In 1999 suicide accounted for 38 per cent of all deaths of First Nations youths aged 10 to 19 and for 23 per cent of all deaths among adults aged 20 to 44.
The rates of suicide were even higher among the Inuit population. In 2001 there were 135 deaths per 100,000 compared to the national average of 12 per 100,000. In Nunavut 70.5 per cent of all suicide deaths were people under the age of 25, and 44 per cent of those deaths were under the age of 20.