The Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Presents Its Report on Suicide among Indigenous Peoples and Commumities

Ottawa, June 19, 2017 –

Today, Hon MaryAnn Mihychuk, Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, presented the Committee’s ninth report, which examined suicide in Indigenous communities. The report, titled Breaking Point: The Suicide Crisis in Indigenous Communities, highlights the tragedy of suicide among Indigenous communities; the incidence of which is significantly more common than among non-Indigenous communities. The intent of this study was to identify the root causes that explain these unacceptably high rates of suicide and provide comprehensive solutions to address mental health issues experienced by Indigenous people.

Said Mihychuk: ”We need to send a message to Indigenous Canadians and especially to young Indigenous people that their lives have value, that they matter, and to hold on to hope. We recognize that they are losing hope because they have difficult lives and are suffering from intergenerational trauma as the result of decades of unjust policies, and that we must act together to restore hope.”

Following extensive testimony, the report finds that suicide and mental health in Indigenous communities is influenced by a range of factors, such as exposure to intergenerational trauma, limited access to mental health services across a continuum of care, as well as the social determinants of health. Collectively, these factors place Indigenous peoples and communities at a greater risk of experiencing mental distress.

The report contains 28 unanimous recommendations that address the social, economic, and cultural factors that affect the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples. They recognize the complexity of mental health issues and reflect the view that there is no single solution that will address the rates of suicide in Indigenous communities. Rather, long term solutions will require a united effort across Indigenous organizations, governments and sectors working together to address conditions that give rise to mental distress. As such, these recommendations reflect the need to enhance community resilience through a range of activities, including:

  • Addressing the social determinants of health through increased support for housing, education, infrastructure and economic development;
  • Improving access to mental health services across the continuum of care such as crisis, intervention and aftercare; and
  • Supporting community-led solutions and self-determination of Indigenous peoples.

This report raises important policy considerations regarding the provision of culturally appropriate programs and services (healthcare in particular) and emphasizes the importance of increasing community control over local services in order to effectively prevent suicide from taking place.

The report may be viewed online on the Committee’s website.

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For more information, please contact:
Grant McLaughlin, Clerk of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Tel: 613-996-1173
E-mail: [email protected]


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