THUNDER BAY – “First Nations are driving forward strategies to increase awareness of youth suicide prevention, including strengthening a strong sense of identity, meaning and purpose within and among our young people,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo. “First Nations want to work with all groups, and strengthen and facilitate linkages within and across governments, to support the development and implementation of locally-driven suicide prevention plans in First Nations and to improve crisis response efforts.”
This week AFN is hosting a national Youth Mental Wellness Forum aimed at supporting and enhancing youth empowerment and resiliency. Taking place in Winnipeg, MB from October 4-6, 2011, this Forum will provide training and practical tools to support First Nation youth and their peers, including highlighting the important roles and responsibilities of First Nation youth as peer counsellors, leaders, and role models for one another.
The conference is online and you can view it at University of Winnipeg Television.
AFN has worked directly with First Nations to develop specific tools to help support First Nation-led preventative approaches, including the publication “Working Together to Address Suicide in First Nations Communities” which highlights success stories based on community-based suicide prevention projects.
On September 2 of this year, National Chief Atleo called on all levels of government to work with First Nations to implement key recommendations of a report by the Ontario Chief Coroner regarding youth suicides in Pikangikum First Nation. The report included a total of 100 recommendations in the areas of education, policing, child welfare and health care, with a particular focus on the development of suicide prevention strategies.
Mental Illness Awareness Week runs October 2nd through 8th, as recognized by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.