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'These kids need help': Calls for suicide prevention grow louder
Sending suicide prevention strategies to remote communities is a step in the right direction - but it isn't enough if they’re temporary, a mental health professional says.
"There's only so much they can do. They don't have time to be able to stay there, they need to have somebody who is going to help in the best way that they can," said Donna Bowyer, provincial director for training and education with Saskatchewan's division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Her comments come following a recent rash of suicides and attempted suicides on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation.
According to the Centre for Suicide Prevention, 124 people died by suicide in Saskatchewan in 2005.
The statistic jumped to 180 in 2017 and 209 people in 2018.
"That's way, way above the national average, which means that we need more resources to be able to help not just the people in north, but the people in south," Bowyer said.
Bower believes Saskatchewan needs a provincial suicide strategy, a sentiment echoed by NDP leader Ryan Meili and Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation Chief Ronald Mitsuing.
"Up stream things like poverty reduction, making sure that people have hope and opportunity, as well as when people are in potential crisis – early identification – and then crisis treatment when necessary," Meili said.
Government Relations Minister Warren Kaeding said the province has provided immediate support and is working to offer long term services.
"I'd say it's a little early in the juncture to determine what those services are, but that's something that will be community-led and we'll certainly have those conversations with officials," he said.
Meanwhile, the chief said while he waits for more support, he'll continue to pray his community doesn't lose anyone else.
"These kids need help," Mitsuing said.
"It's hurting the whole province, not just our community."
If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available. Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645) and Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868) offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues. If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. The Centre for Suicide Prevention (1-833-456-4566) is a place where resources on suicide prevention can be found.