Mental health therapists are being made available 24 hours a day after the suicides of three girls in two northern Saskatchewan communities.
Two Stanley Mission girls between the ages of 12 and 14 took their own lives last week.
A third girl from La Ronge, who had been in intensive care in Saskatoon after an attempt to kill herself, died in recent days.
Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said there have also been nine suicide attempts in the past week in her community and that more than 20 youths are considered at risk.
“Our communities of Stanley Mission and La Ronge continue to be in shock and are deeply saddened with the recent tragic loss of three beautiful young girls to suicide,” Cook-Searson said in a Facebook post.
“Thank you to everyone who has and continues to support us in addressing the current crisis we are in with our youth and families.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said tragedies like the suicides of the three young girls have got to stop.
Trudeau said his government is working with the Saskatchewan government and others to put an end to the tragedy of young people taking their own lives.
Health Canada said in a statement that it has been in touch with the chief and others in Stanley Mission about providing mental health therapists.
The department said that based on an assessment, it will help fund costs for three mental health therapists to provide counselling to at-risk youth until the end of December.
You can read Health Canada’s statement in its entirety below.
On behalf of my Health Canada, we would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and the communities affected by the recent tragedies in northern Saskatchewan.
Over the past week, Health Canada has been in contact with Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of Lac La Ronge and local contacts in Stanley Mission.
We have also been in contact with Chief Peter Beattie of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in the wake of the latest suicide tragedy in Deschambault Lake.
For Stanley Mission and Lac La Ronge, Health Canada has deployed two nurses to provide relief support to the community health staff Health Canada is also providing supports to allow seven mental health therapists to travel weekly to Stanley Mission to provide counselling to at-risk youth, six days a week, on a rotational basis, until the end of December 2016.
The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and the community of Deschambault Lake are leading the response to the crisis in their communities supported by ongoing funding agreements from Health Canada. There are three mental health workers in this community, and two additional workers from Pelican Narrows have been deployed to Deschambault Lake for immediate support. Health Canada is committed to providing necessary supports to the community as requested.
Heath Canada will continue to provide mental health crisis counselling through the Non-Insured Health Benefits program. Support is also being made available through the Mental Wellness Team from Prince Albert Grand Council.
In Saskatchewan, there are currently four Mental Wellness Teams in place. Planning is currently underway to fund four new Mental Wellness Teams in 2017-18 for communities in Saskatchewan. This would bring the number of Mental Wellness Teams in the Saskatchewan region to eight.
In addition to supports on the ground, we have also launched a telephone crisis intervention line to provide immediate, culturally competent, counselling support for First Nations and Inuit, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Counselling is available in English and French and, upon request, in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktut. The new toll-free number for the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line is 1-855-242-3310.
As of this morning, the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line has received a total of 44 calls since it began operating on October 1, 2016.
We recognize the scope and seriousness of the mental health issues that are facing many First Nations and Inuit communities across Canada.
We are committed to engaging and working with First Nations and Inuit on mental wellness initiatives, and are renewing our commitment to working with them and our provincial partners to prevent further tragic loss of life to suicide.
If we can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
With files from Global News