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The Suicide Epidemic in First Nations Communities

The state of emergency declared in many aboriginal communities across this Nation due to mass suicides has been heartbreaking. As followers of Jesus we cannot sit by and do nothing. Crossroads Relief and Development has partnered with the Bill Prankard Evangelistic Association to launch Arctic Hope. An initiative to train young community leaders in suicide prevention.

Leading this project is Steve Carleton. Steve just got back from Cross Lake, Manitoba which was the community that made headlines this past March. They had 6 suicides in 2 months, and then more than 100 people who threatened it, or attempted it in just 2 weeks.

When he got there they met with different groups of young people, as well as the high school principal, the chief and council and a number of different spiritual leaders. It appears after talking to the community that there are a lot of factors contributing to young people contemplating and attempting suicide.

A common denominator as we look at this issue is a real sense of hopelessness and a major lack of purpose in their lives.

They thought that in a community with 85% unemployment in a community close to 9000 members. They thought that the lack of education may be one of the major issues. One of the pastors daughters in town is 25 and has her bachelors in social work. She is trying to do some preliminary psychiatric work. She was unemployed and homeless in the community and she really was thinking about suicide.

There are a lot of problems there and a lot of contributing factors but our message of hope and the gospel of Jesus Christ will make a difference.

The facts are that there are;

1000 houses for 8,500 people

55% of population under age of 25 and are unemployed

500 kids cannot go to school because there is not enough room in the high school

It is not always about money, and it's not only about buildings. Steve shared his own story of recovery from abuse and how he found healing from God and spending time in prayer. He could tell these kids could relate to what he had gone through.

These people going into these communities need prayers as they go in. There has been disunity among the churches and we need to pray against that and that churches work together against this issue.

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