Chief Bruce Shisheesh desperate for mental health services after 11 attempts on Saturday night alone
The chief and council for the Attawapiskat First Nation on remote James Bay have declared a state of emergency, saying they’re overwhelmed by the number of attempted suicides in the community.
On Saturday night alone, 11 people attempted to take their own lives, Chief Bruce Shisheesh said. Shisheesh and the council met Saturday night and unanimously voted to declare the state of emergency. That compels such agencies as the Weeneebayko Health Authority in Moose Factory, Ont., and Health Canada to bring in additional resources.
Including Saturday’s spate of suicide attempts, a total of 101 people of all ages have tried to kill themselves since September, Shisheesh said, with one person dying. The youngest was 11, the oldest 71.
The Cree community — home to about 2,000 residents — saw 28 attempts in March alone. Last September, a group of five girls overdosed and had to be medevaced out of the community, Shisheesh said.
Four health-care workers without specialized mental health training are trying to keep up with the attempts and to avert future ones, he said. “I’m asking friends, government, that we need help in our community,” Shisheesh said. “I have relatives that have attempted to take their own lives… cousins, friends.”
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