Saskatoon conference deals with youth suicide crisis in northern Saskatchewan
For today’s young people life can seem completely overwhelming at times. Wynona Cenaiko knows this all too well. She’s a suicide attempt survivor and wants others to learn from her experience.
“I think it’s important for kids now a days to know they aren’t alone. It happens to everyone. People from all walks of life suffer from sadness,” Cenaiko said from the Ignite Your Life conference at the Saskatoon Inn on Thursday.
“Life is hard especially when you’re young because every experience is new and you don’t have the tools to deal with it yet.”
According to Kids Help Phone, 22 per cent of Canadian teens considered suicide this past year. It’s a startling statistic, but among indigenous youth that number soars.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations officials said aboriginal youth are five times more likely than non-aboriginal youth to think about suicide.
The Ignite Your Life conference is hoping to change that statistic by listening to the 500 youth from across northern Saskatchewan who have come to the event and implementing their suggestions.
“We really need to listen instead of always speaking to the youth. We need to listen to them,” conference organizer Treena Wynes said.
Wynes is also the executive director for Agency Chiefs Child and Family Services. She developed the conference in the wake of the northern Saskatchewan youth suicide crisis.
“The most important part of the conference is when we are going to have the youth tell us what they’re struggling with.”
The kids will also learn how to keep a positive perspective when life gets tough and become peer-to-peer life ambassadors.
“The number of kids here and the number of youth here lets them know that they aren’t alone and they have other kids out there that are going through the same things,” Saskatchewan’s children and youth advocate, Corey O’Soup, said.
“They now have a network they can reach out to at anytime if they need help. Youth helping youth is probably the most important thing we can do for them,” he explained.
O’Soup will take feedback from this conference and apply it to a suicide report that will help the province develop future plans for northern Saskatchewan.
WATCH BELOW: Sask. Children’s advocate Cory O’Soup dealing with suicide crisis
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