Suicide Pact Puts the Spotlight on Teen Mental Health

Last summer, young girls from Wapekeka First Nation in northwestern Ontario, Canada, made a suicide pact. Since then, three of the girls have taken their own lives, leading officials to declare a state of emergency. This month alone, two 12-year-olds and a 14-year-old from Indigenous communities in Ontario have died by suicide. According to the Centre for Suicide Prevention, the suicide rate of the Inuit youth in Canada is 11 times higher than the national average and among the highest in the world. In the U.S., youth suicide rates in American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) communities are also at crisis level. Programs and support in these communities are limited, so some teens are forming their own groups to try to help others who are in crisis.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number. In the U.S. you can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In Canada, call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. To find international helplines, visit Suicide.org.

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