Assembly of First Nations calls for expansion of successful suicide prevention program



    OTTAWA, Sept. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - On World Suicide Prevention Day, AFN
National Chief Phil Fontaine is calling on government to expand the "highly
successful" National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy (NAYSPS).
The AFN would like to see the number of NAYSPS projects double over the next
year.
    "The National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy is making a
real difference because, for the first time, communities can develop a crisis
plan and projects aimed at prevention, which has not been possible in the
past," said National Chief Phil Fontaine. "In some communities people didn't
know how to approach someone who needed help. This program is not only
bringing the issue out into the open, but teaching people how to help those at
risk."
    NAYSPS helps First Nations partner with education, health and justice
workers to identify people who are at risk, and take preventative measures.
Some communities are also involving youth in the design of NAYSPS projects,
and have trained youth peer leaders who hold monthly workshops for youth at
risk.
    "In the past youth were reluctant to seek help, because they worried
about confidentiality or simply didn't trust the program," says Sasha Maracle,
of the AFN National Youth Council. "By involving youth in the design of NAYSPS
projects, communities are improving their services."
    She added that involving youth in the design of suicide prevention
projects was a key recommendation of the National Youth Council's Five Year
Action Plan, which was developed at last year's National Youth Summit.
    Both National Chief Phil Fontaine and Youth Leader Sasha Maracle think
expanding NAYSPS is a critical next step. There are currently 140 community
based projects across Canada. They would like to see that number double this
year, and double again in 2010.
    First Nations' youth commit suicide at a rate up to six times higher than
Canadian youth overall. First Nations' adults commit suicide three times more
than the Canadian average. However, incidents of suicide vary from community
to community. Suicide is an urgent issue in some First Nations communities,
others have very low rates of suicide and some communities have not had a
suicide in more than a decade.
    Incidents of suicide tend to be lower in communities that have high
levels of cultural continuity as expressed by self control over land claims,
self-government, education and cultural practices. Key causes of suicide in
First Nations communities are poverty, poor health, and low self-esteem.




For further information:

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, Heath Communications, (613)
241-6789 ext 210, (613) 292-1877, kpugliese@afn.ca


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