November 2, 2016 11:02 am
Updated: November 3, 2016 8:44 am

Saskatchewan’s new children’s advocate making suicide crisis his top priority

WATCH ABOVE: As northern Saskatchewan communities mourn the deaths of six girls who took their own lives, federal and provincial agencies are working with community leaders in the north who say its reached a crisis level. Joel Senick reports.

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Saskatchewan’s new children’s advocate said dealing with a growing suicide crisis in the north is his first priority.

Corey O’Soup said he will head north this week to meet with aboriginal leaders following six youth suicides during October.

“We need to sit down with the youth, with the community, with elders, with community leaders and I truly believe the solutions will come from the community,” O’Soup said.

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READ MORE: Saskatchewan NDP calls for action after 6th aboriginal girl commits suicide

The six girls were between the ages of 10 and 14.

O’Soup said long-term solutions could include better mental health supports and education for youth and parents.

The reason I took the job was for our First Nation and Métis children because that’s who I am and I truly believe that our role is to advocate on behalf of those children,” O’Soup said.

“Often we try and do things and we try to create solutions and we try and do that all in our own little silos if you may and I think the strongest thing that we can do is we can work together for the better of the kids.”

A vigil was held in La Ronge on Tuesday evening to remember the six girls.

READ MORE: Candle light vigil held in La Ronge after sixth youth suicide in northern Sask.

Prior to the vigil, Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said the community is in crisis.

“It’s really difficult to lose another youth to suicide and we are in a crisis situation,” Cook-Searson said.

She said over 20 youth have now been identified as being at high risk for self-harm and urged those at the vigil to show strength in the face of tragedy and support each other.

“We need to reach out to our young people, we need to tell them that we love them, that we care about them,” Cook-Searson said.

Communities in northern Saskatchewan where six girls have committed suicide in recent weeks.

The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has stated the province is working with leaders to bolster support to the communities.

O’Soup said lon-term solutions need to be found for both children and communities in the north.

“My role would be to ensure that the government continues to support and to resource and to make sure that all the families are supported,” O’Soup said.

An operations centre was set up in October to co-ordinate mental health service.

READ MORE: Rash of Saskatchewan youth suicides triggers cross-Canada response

Wall also agreed with the Opposition NDP to have O’Soup make the plight of young people in the north a priority.

With files from Joel Senick and The Canadian Press

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