Breaking the cycle: How northern Saskatchewan is rallying to end suicide – Saskatoon

It was a case in point nobody wanted to make. At a meeting calling for urgent action on suicides in northern Saskatchewan on Wednesday, one of the guests had to cancel to help an 11-year-old girl who had overdosed in a nearby community.

The meeting in Buffalo Narrows was a call to action spurred on by recent deaths in La Loche, Turnor Lake and Île-à-la-Crosse, all more than 400 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

Holly Toulejour, a social worker from the Dene High School in La Loche, called the community meeting to push for a state of emergency in the north.

It was an act of desperation to draw attention to a suicide problem she says has long been present in her community, only now she believes it is getting worse.

‘Do we need to have six people kill themselves in a row before people realize, like, ‘OK, this is not right?'”

– Holly Toulejour

Having watched the response over the years, Toulejour is fed up with talk about strategies and policies. She’s also frustrated by the tendency to boost community resources after a tragedy, saying the services always drop off.

12-year-old Meghan Morin (second from left) said cyberbullying was something they were seeing among their classmates. (Alicia Bridges/CBC)

“What is it going to take for people to realize that there’s a sense of urgency?” she asked.

“Like, do we need to have another suicide, do we need to have six people kill themselves in a row before people realize, like, ‘OK, this is not right?'”

Growing up in La Loche, Toulejour said young people had a feeling that their community was “less than.”

Toulejour herself struggled with depression and as a young woman attemped suicide.

“I know how it feels like to think ‘OK, the world would be a better place without me and who cares,'” said Toulejour.

“That was 17 years ago when I felt that way but there are still people who are feeling that way.”

Île-à-la-Crosse hospital physician Dr. Stephen Britton said suicides are happening so often in northern Saskatchewan that people in the community are in an almost constant cycle of grieving. (Alicia Bridges/CBC)

System needs overhaul: Northern doctor

In October and November last year, six girls aged between 10 and 14 took their own lives in northern Saskatchewan.

Their deaths were labelled a crisis. Premier Brad Wall visited the region with two cabinet ministers and additional mental health workers were sent to the area.

Those workers have since returned to their home regions.

Read the full article from the Source…

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