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Alberta government developing suicide prevention comic books for Indigenous youth

The Alberta Legislature pictured on Monday, March 19, 2018.
The Alberta Legislature pictured on Monday, March 19, 2018. Tom Vernon, Global News

The Government of Alberta is hoping comic books will help address the issue of suicide and assist with suicide prevention among Indigenous youth in the province.

Children’s Services has selected Healthy Aboriginal Network (HAN) to develop two comic books aimed at youth suicide prevention – one will target First Nations youth while the other will target Metis youth.

READ MORE: Suicide of First Nations youth shows kids in care must be heard, says Alberta advocate

“HAN has been identified as the only known vendor that has the infrastructure, connections and experience to develop Indigenous comic books within the time frames that we have identified,” department spokesperson Zoe Cooper said.

This is the first time the province has addressed the issue through the form of a comic book.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan’s suicide crisis among First Nations youth

“The books… will be used to inform the development of Indigenous youth suicide prevention activities – as a tangible tool for communities to use, as well as a way to engage with youth in the development of these resources,” Cooper said.

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The comic books are targeted at those who are 13 to mid-20s.

READ MORE: Indigenous suicide report calls on feds to provide supports after hours and on weekends

“Critically important will be the ability to address the issue of suicide prevention in age-appropriate and culturally appropriate ways, including by addressing the benefits of mental wellness, resiliency and cultural connection,” reads the notice of proposed procurement.

The contract for the development of the comic books runs until September 15. The notice of proposed procurement states the budget for the project will be under $90,000.

RELATED: B.C. First Nations youth twice as likely to die as non-Indigenous peers: Report

Cooper said details are expected this summer regarding when the comic books will be published, how many will be printed or how they will be distributed.

In a report in 2016, Alberta Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff said Indigenous young people are five to six times more likely to be affected by suicide than the general population.

with files from the Canadian Press