An international meeting organized to thrash out issues pertaining to indigenous child healthcare was a valuable opportunity to focus attention on a burning issue - high rate of suicide amongst aboriginal communities. Amongst the Inuit population of Nunavik, Canada, the suicide rate stands at an all time high of seven times the national rate- 11.3 per thousand people.
Policymakers have been frowned upon for their lack of attention on child issues. Most of the hospitals do not look beyond immunization programs. What about special services to autistic children or those suffering cerebral palsy?
Although it is worthwhile to pool into the resources available within the community and fall back on the innate cultural strength, yet considering the magnitude of the problem, this is inadequate to make an effective impact on the suicide rate. External assistance is absolutely essential to make a significant impact on the killing numbers.
The exact numbers of suicides is shocking to say the least. In the Inuit office within Health Canada the suicide rate is almost 11 times the Canadian average. Mr. Simon, Canada's leading aboriginal diplomat and a former president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, said, "The numbers speak for the issue; it should be considered an epidemic. It always overshadows the communities, even the healthy communities."
According to experts, the reasons for the increase in suicides are many. Some of the major reasons are dull economy, employment issues, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and issues pertaining to mental health. With each community battling its own set of problems, it becomes imperative to train counselors according to the need rather than adopting a universal solution. Perhaps the right approach should begin by having appropriate people take charge of the counseling centers. Next step could be to improve the diagnostic centers.
An agreement has been signed between the Inuit Office and the federal government. The Inuit office will work in tandem with Health Canada to address important issues pertaining to mental health.