Data reveals close to 600 suicides in northern Ontario since the mid-1980s – by Martha Troian (APTN – March 27, 2018)

Brian Rae remembers his nephew, Dario Strang, as someone who was smart and did well in school. Rae thought Strang had a bright future ahead of him. But on June 8, 2009 everything changed.

After visiting a family member from Sioux Lookout, Ont., Strang returned to his home in Pikangikum First Nation and lost his life to suicide. He was just 18 years old. “He was a young man, he had everything going for him at that time,” says Brian Rae, originally from Sandy Lake First Nation, from his home in Sioux Lookout.

“He was in school. He had aspirations of going into the army. He was already accepted to go into the Bold Eagle Program.” The Bold Eagle Program is a summer military program for Indigenous youth.

Strang is just one of the hundreds of Indigenous people who have lost their lives to suicide in northern Ontario. APTN Investigates took a closer look at data collection around suicide and ethnicity and has learned the federal government and a handful of provinces are not keeping track of these deaths, despite there being a crisis.

According to Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization that oversees 49 communities in the north, there have been 562 suicide deaths since 1986. Of those deaths, 334 were males. Many of these deaths are also young people between the ages of 15-20 years old, accounting for 218 suicides.

The most common method used was by hanging, accounting for 417 of the deaths based on the data.

Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum said these numbers do not shock her, knowing the issues facing the north.

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