TORONTO, CANADA: A Canadian aboriginal community of 2,000 people has declared a state of emergency after 11 of its members tried to take their own lives on Saturday night, national media reported.
CTV News reported on Sunday that the remote northern community of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario experienced an additional 28 suicide attempts last month. More than 100 people in the community have attempted suicide since last September, and one person died, according to CTV.
Charlie Angus, the local member of parliament, told the Canadian Press it was part of a “rolling nightmare” of more and more suicide attempts among young people throughout the winter.
The Canadian Press said the regional First Nations government was sending a crisis response unit to the community following the declaration. The Health Canada federal agency said in a statement it sent two mental health counselors as part of that unit.
The First Nation’s band office could not be immediately reached for comment.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter: “The news from Attawapiskat is heartbreaking. We’ll continue to work to improve living conditions for all Indigenous peoples.”
Another Canadian aboriginal community in the western province of Manitoba appealed for federal aid last month, citing six suicides in two months and 140 suicide attempts in two weeks.
Canada’s 1.4 million aboriginals, who make up about 4 percent of the country’s population, have higher levels of poverty and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians and are more often victims of violent crime, addiction and incarceration.
The problems plaguing remote indigenous communities gained prominence in January when a gunman killed four people in La Loche, Saskatchewan.