ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. – An aboriginal official in northern Ontario says a nine-year-old child and 12 other youths were overheard making a suicide pact Monday on a remote First Nation mired in a suicide crisis.
Anna Betty Achneepineskum of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation says police brought the youths to the local hospital in Attawapiskat for an evaluation, but the hospital was too overwhelmed to see all of them at once and about half of them waited in jail for treatment.
Achneepineskum says the entire community in the James Bay region is so overwhelmed by the rash of suicide attempts that three of the four health-care workers have been sent to Thunder Bay for counselling and rest.
The Attawapiskat chief and eight councillors declared a state of emergency Saturday evening, citing the community’s 11 suicide attempts so far in the month of April and 28 recorded attempts in March.
Achneepineskum says some of the young people have been released back to their parents, while others are being treated for a variety of mental health issues.
She says a group from Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization that represents 49 First Nations communities including Attawapiskat, made plans a month ago to come into the community to talk about the suicide crisis.
“There are so many things that are needed here,” Achneepineskum said. “So many things.