The Facilitation of Healing For Indigenous Youth Who are Suicidal

A retrospective exploratory study

Authored by: Rod McCormick , Sharon Thira , Marla Arvay , Sophia Rinaldis

Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research

Print publication date:  October  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415530125
eBook ISBN: 9780203795583
Adobe ISBN: 9781134459292


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In Canada and the United States, Indigenous people under the age of 25 continue to experience a much higher suicide rate than non-Indigenous people in the same age group (Ferry, 2000; Statistics Canada, 2006). Suicide rates, in Canada, for Indigenous youth steadily increased from the 1960s until the mid-1990s (Kirmayer, Brass, Holton, Paul, Simpson, & Tait, 2007). During this 30-year time frame, analysis revealed that suicide among Indigenous youth in North America living on reserves escalated from 200% to 300% (Berlin, 1987). By the end of the 20th century, rates began to stabilize or slightly decrease for the general Indigenous population. However, for Indigenous youth, the numbers continued to grow (Kirmayer et al., 2007). This was especially the case for male youth. Although very few authors have investigated rates of suicide attempt, it is safe to say that these statistics are also high when compared to youth of the general population. Furthermore, rates of suicide attempt are dangerously high among female youth (Kirmayer et al., 2007). Today, Indigenous people are, generally, between two and five times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous people (Chandler & Lalonde, 2008; Kirmayer et al., 2007); these estimates inevitably vary across communities. The statistics for Indigenous youth between the ages of 15 and 25 are even higher. Indigenous youth in Canada between 10 and 19 years of age are five to six times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous youth of the same age; rates are the highest for youth between the ages of 20 and 29 (Royal Commission Report, 2002).

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