09:27 GMT23 October 2020
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    A 2,000-person Canadian First Nations community has declared a state of emergency after 11 residents attempted suicide in a single day.

    The incidents in the Ontario community of Attawapiskat have been described as a “rolling nightmare,” according to Charlie Angus, a local member of parliament who spoke to the Canadian Press.

    In the month of March, there were 28 suicide attempts in the community. Over 100, or 1/20th of the group’s residents, have attempted to kill themselves since September 2015, with one succeeding.

    The oldest attempted suicide was a 71-year-old, while the youngest was 11.

    On Sunday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted about the crisis, stating; “The news from Attawapiskat is heartbreaking. We'll continue to work to improve living conditions for all Indigenous peoples.”

    Since declaring a state of emergency, the regional First Nations government sent in a crisis response unit to the territory, including social workers and mental health professionals.

    One resident, Jackie Hookimaw, told the Canadian Press that the wave of suicide attempts began after her 13-year-old niece Sheridan killed herself last fall. She explained that the young girl had been bullied.

    “There’s different layers of grief,” she said. “There’s normal grief, when somebody dies from illness or old age. And there’s complicated grief, where there’s severe trauma, like when somebody commits suicide.”

    There are approximately 1.4 million Indigenous people in Canada, and the people of the First Nations tribes “have higher levels of poverty and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians and are more often victims of violent crime, addiction and incarceration,” the Guardian reports.


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