Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Recognizing Problems, Finding Solutions

"[Addressing the acute problem of First Nations suicide epidemics] will require co-ordination among education, justice, employment and social welfare sectors."
Laura Egertson, Kirsten Patrick, Canadian Medical Association Journal

"Some factors driving suicide are] crowded housing, intergenerational trauma, family violence, family history of suicide [as well as] witnessing or experiencing physical or sexual abuse, [medical problems such as] depression, substance abuse, mental health disorders [and social dysfunction related to] intoxication, access to means, hopelessness [and] isolation."
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Sky-high suicide rates are blooming on some of Canada's most isolated and economically depressed First Nations reserves where miserable life outcomes have become all too common. So how to solve issues contributing to hopelessness and misery caused by isolation? First Nations tribes tend to cling to their heritage lands and memory of living off the land, though they currently live on the land, but not off it, preferring to emulate the use of convenience foods, commercially produced durables and food, and watching television, over being actively engaged.

Solving such intractable problems as familial dysfunction, community violence, drug abuse, scorn for education and independence given by seeking sources contributing to earning a living and subsequent lack of pride in subsisting on universal welfare doled out to aboriginals goes well beyond daunting. How to convince First Nations that it is in their best interests, to solve these intractable problems, to pursue a fully advanced lifestyle by being absorbed by the prevailing social lifestyle in Canada's larger community?

Which cannot be achieved while First Nations tribes insist on living dependent on government handouts in geographic areas that confine them to an untamed wilderness where there are no employment opportunities, where direct access to science and advanced health care, and exposure to sound education for their children is denied them. If competently trained health care workers, fire fighters, policing services and teachers cannot be found from within their own communities, why is it surprising that those services will not come to the isolated regions courtesy of non-native volunteers?

Canada's suicide rate is 11.4 per 100,000 population, about average for many countries similar to Canada in their advanced-level functioning capabilities. Yet some countries admired for the success of their socially advanced communities have come under scrutiny for the level of their suicide rates, higher than Canada's. Germany has a rate of 13 per 100,000, Sweden 13.2, and Finland a whopping 16.7 per 100,000. Canada's rate would be even lower if it were not influenced by the suicide rates in First Nations communities.

On First Nations reserves the suicide rate comes in at five and a half times the rate throughout the country, in Canada. Canada's Inuit populations most particularly rate as being among the highest on the globe. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami's suicide prevention statistics give the Nunavut suicide rate at 117 per 100,000; a number twice Russia's rate which qualifies as a world leader in suicides. In Nunavut suicides accounted for 13.5 percent of all deaths.

'I do not believe that it is respectful for the government to prescribe solutions for Indigenous peoples when it comes to suicide,' Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, told parliamentarians Tuesday. CBC -- Natan Obed, president, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
"Each one of us is personally affected by suicide and this comes from a very early age and it affects our entire life course."
"Imagine a scenario where you grow up understanding how to die by suicide. You have friends, family members, loved ones who have died by suicide. And suicide is normalized in your community."
"I came away frustrated and have continued to be frustrated by the way in which the discussion has happened to date."
"It is as if Indigenous suicide and Inuit suicide is something completely outside a public health context and somehow the answers only lie with us and us alone."
"What they are looking for in many cases is a particular component of suicide prevention that is Indigenous only that usually has something to do with on-the-land camps or cultural continuity, that is relatively cheap."
"I do not believe that it is respectful for the government to prescribe solutions for Indigenous peoples when it comes to suicide."
"Many of the reasons why our communities are the way they are is because of colonization and because of programs and policies of the Canadian government."
"Specific interventions and investments are going to be necessary from different federal departments."
"This, of course, isn't a three to five year push. This is a generational thing."
Natan Obed, president, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Bitterly critiquing the federal government in its attempted approaches to bringing a solution to such dreadful problems, insisting that it is not non-Indigenous who must plan and implement working solutions, but complaining that cheap won't do it, and funding must be lavished on communities which have thus far dismally failed to solve their problems, preferring to lay the blame on the colonialist past solves nothing, but it is typical.

Only once the non-Indigenous and the Indigenous people make a sincere effort beyond well-meaning on the part of government, and determined-to-succeed on the part of Indigenous leaders, will any kind of remedy to the current problems afflicting First Nations come close to solution.

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