SASKATOON — As a funeral was held Monday on Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation for a 10-year-old girl who died by suicide last week, five teens were in hospital being treated for their own suicide attempts.
“It’s a shock. Me, I’m just trying to remain focused,” band manager Barry Chalifoux told CTV News.
The 10-year-old’s suicide was the third suicide this month. Last week a father in his early 40s died, and earlier this month a 14-year-old died by suicide.
Leaders in the community, located in northwest Saskatchewan, declared a state of crisis Thursday.
Chalifoux said the five attempts all happened over the weekend.
“I’m trying to get our local team to do what they need to do what they need to do but the support isn’t there, not yet. Not as promised, anyways.”
The province has seconded four crisis workers to the First Nation from various hospitals, he said.
A few from Meadow Lake Tribal Council have also come on a temporary basis, he said.
“We ran our workers pretty thin this weekend,” band councillor Dean Mitsuing said.
The community opened up its public buildings to hold meetings over the weekend, he said.
“Everybody is stepping up, everybody is volunteering their time.”
Community members are also seeing “a lot of little warnings” from kids, Mitsuing said, often in the form of concerning social media posts.
“Our team has been running around the clock 24 hours, they’ve been doing home visits and talking with these children.”
The community also held a sucide awareness walk on Sunday, with 50 to 60 people taking part, Mitsuing said.
“Everybody is telling their loved ones that they love them.”
Mitsuing said he spent the weekend with his nine-year-old daughter by his side.
“You know, I felt good knowing she was safe and had me with her.”
Raised in legislature
The state of crisis declared in Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation was raised in Saskatchewan’s legislature Monday.
Minister of Rural and Remote Health Warren Kaeding said that the Saskatchewan Health Authority has offered to provide mental health and addictions staff trained in suicide risk assessment to help in the community.
“We’ve also had offers from the Ministry of Social Services. They’ve been in contact with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council through their child and family services agency to get the support of community-based organizations in the area,” he said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available. Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645), Centre for Suicide Prevention (1-833-456-4566) or Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues. If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
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