Suicide of Nunavut boy, 11, sparks outrage

(QMI Agency file photo)

(QMI Agency file photo)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:05 PM ET

The suicide of an 11-year-old boy in Nunavut has renewed calls for the territory to do more to address the epidemic.

"The silence is deafening," Jack Anawak, former MP and Nunavut justice minister, told the Nunatsiaq News. "It's time people started saying: 'Let's talk about it,' rather than saying: 'If we don't talk about it, it will go away.'"

Piita Irniq, a former Northwest Territories MLA and Nunavut's first commissioner, echoed Anawak's statement, telling the paper: "We need to get our people and especially our Inuit leaders to start talking about it."

Mark Buell, former spokesman for the National Aboriginal Health Organization, said on Twitter that Canadians should be outraged.

"We are a nation with a limited ability for compassion. Indifference to children killing themselves is the worst thing I can imagine," he wrote.

According to Nunatsiaq News, a boy in Repulse Bay recently committed suicide just after his 11th birthday. The paper did not give further details about the death.

According to Statistics Canada, suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 15 to 32. And that problem is magnified in Nunavut, where the suicide rate is 56.9 per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 11.5.

A McGill University study released in June found that child abuse, substance abuse and mental distress in Nunavut create big risk factors for suicides.

The Government of Nunavut defended its response to the problem after a spate of suicides in Pangnirtung last May, noting that it has doubled its mental-health resources since 2003.


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