Health Canada
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First Nations & Inuit Health

Suicide Prevention

Health Canada is committed to improving the health status of First Nations people and Inuit. One of its priorities is the development and implementation of a National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy that aims to increase resiliency and protective factors, and reduce risk factors associated with Aboriginal youth suicide.

Facts on Suicide Rates

Youth suicide is an urgent issue for First Nations and Inuit youth in Canada. While there is much variation among communities, overall rates are high.

  • Suicide rates are five to seven times higher for First Nations youth than for non-Aboriginal youth.
  • Suicide rates among Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national average.

Addressing Youth Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a problem that not only affects youth but impacts the whole community. The ripple effect of trauma is powerful in small, close-knit Aboriginal communities, possibly accounting for suicide clusters.

For many First Nations and Inuit youth, the root causes of suicide go much deeper to factors beyond an individual's control. For some, suicide becomes a means of escape when there are few alternative choices available. Suicide prevention generally involves finding ways to reduce risk factors and promoting protective and preventive factors against suicide.

Health Canada is working with national Aboriginal organizations on an evidence-based national strategy to address suicide prevention. A key element of the strategy is to support community-based solutions to youth suicide, which is rooted in the evidence regarding what is most likely to be effective in preventing Aboriginal youth suicide.

For more information on First Nations youth suicide, refer to the report of the Advisory Group on Suicide Prevention, Acting on What We Know: Preventing Youth Suicide in First Nations. This report sheds light on some of the root causes of suicide and presents recommendations to reverse the alarming trend among First Nations youth in Canada.