ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. – The federal and Ontario governments are moving to help a remote First Nation that has declared a state of emergency due to a rising number of suicide attempts among its young people.
The federal and Ontario health ministers said Sunday that a crisis team, including mental health nurses and social workers, was being flown immediately to the James Bay community of about 2,000.
Attawapiskat resident Jackie Hookimaw says the suicide epidemic started last fall, when a number of people tried to kill themselves.
Hookimaw, whose 13-year-old great niece took her own life in October, says the community doesn’t have the resources to deal with the crisis.
That sentiment was echoed by the local MP, New Democrat Charlie Angus, who said northern communities aren’t given the resources they need to deal with complicated grief.
Angus said it has been a “rolling nightmare” of more and more suicide attempts among young people throughout the winter.
He said the community didn’t think it could get any worse than it was in March, but April brought even more suicide attempts.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the news from Attawapiskat “heartbreaking.”