State of emergency declared after small Canadian town sees over 100 suicide attempts in six months

The area suffered a similar wave of suicide attempts in 2009 and 2010

Attawapiskat First Nation, Julian Brave NoiseCat

State of emergency declared after a wave of attempted suicides

Eleven people from the Attawapiskat First Nation in Canada have tried to take their own lives this past Saturday. There have been 101 such attempts since September. With a population of just 2,000, this means that just over 5% of those living in the small Indian reserve have tried to kill themselves in the past six months.

Located 600 miles north of the Canadian capital, Ottawa, a state of emergency has been declared after what one local MP has described as a “rolling nightmare” of a winter.

A crisis response unit, including social workers and mental health nurses, have since been sent to the community. The eldest person to attempt suicide was 71 years old, the youngest just 11, while the current spate of suicide attempts is believed to have started after a 13-year-old ended her life after being bullied at school.

According to The Globe and Mail: "Some of the children apprehended by police Monday had to spend time in a holding cell, where they could be kept safe, until health workers could see them at the hospital; some of those children had recently been treated for repeat suicide attempts."

The Guardian have reported that another First Nation community, in the western province of Manitoba, appealed for federal aid last month, citing six suicides in two months and 140 suicide attempts in two weeks.

Another article in that same paper said that the emergency facing the First Nation has been generations in the making. Journalist Julian Brave NoiseCat, himself an enrolled member of another First Nation government, said that it had been "tacitly supported by a Canada fully willing to mine natural resources, proselytize and brutalize generations of children in residential schools, and then leave basic housing, education systems and healthcare in a state of disrepair."

With a lack of proper housing, a lack of proper health care and sanitation, and a lack of access to clean drinking water, the New York Times reports that the Attawapiskat First Nation survives by hunting moose and caribou in the surrounding bog... or by fishing.

There has been some good news for the Attawapiskat of late however, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising to make their issues a priority.