Cry for help after four teens take their own lives on Manitoba First Nation


An estimated 1,000 people from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation (Cross Lake First Nation) attended a suicide prevention walk Thursday. (Facebook)

Most recent victim will be buried Sunday on what would’ve been her 15th birthday

By Karen Pauls, CBC News, March 04, 2016

Young people on the Pimicikamak Cree Nation are crying out for help after four teenagers killed themselves in less than three months.

“There’s so much of it happening,” said Amber Muskego, 17, who was close friends with some of the young people who have died since just before Christmas.

“I want everybody to help us try to fight this. We need a youth crisis centre.”

Muskego and other sources tell CBC News the youngest victim was a girl who will be buried this Sunday – on what would have been her 15th birthday. The oldest was 18.

Two others have reportedly been sent to Winnipeg for help after they attempted take their lives.

The community held a suicide prevention walk Thursday to draw attention to the crisis – and try to find healing.

“We met in the middle of our town,” Muskego said.

“Everywhere, Christians were walking with the students, kids, everyone that wanted to go. They were pouring holy water on the ground, trying to bless the ground so no more suicides happen and our town gets out of grief.”

Part of the problem, Muskego said, is that there is very little for young people to do. In the summer, they play baseball. In the winter, there’s only hockey.

“Our town is invaded with drugs and alcohol. People get money, welfare, child tax. Some people don’t even give kids their family allowance. They just go drink it up, slots, drugs, whatever they can get,” she said.

“That’s what’s taking over our town. Our young people are running to drugs and alcohol.”

An estimated 8,000 people live on the First Nation, which has an 80 per cent unemployment rate.

The father of a 15-year-old girl who died Jan. 20 agrees that the lack of opportunity is creating a feeling of hopelessness for young people in the community.

He and his daughter cannot be identified because she was in the care of Child and Family Services when she died.

“People are getting angry at what’s going on. Finger-pointing, what is the root cause of this suicide in Cross Lake. Lack of recreational facilities for example, youth hang-outs, cultural centre, lack of opportunities in Cross Lake,” he said.

The man says he doesn’t even know yet how his daughter died – and those questions are haunting him.

“I keep hearing conflicting stories. One says she hung herself. The other says she overdosed. That’s why I’m waiting for the autopsy report. It is so hard. Ever since I lost my daughter, life is turned upside for me and for my family,” he said.

“A few factors come into play, like bullying. My daughter was in the foster home. She would’ve come home on Feb. 1 back to my care.  I told her that, she was looking forward to coming home and then something happened.”

There is a concern that more young people will be lost, so mental health workers are in the schools, working with students considered high-risk, said Cynthia Robinson, of Cross Lake Health Services.

She said there’s a need for even more mental health professionals in the community approximately 700 km north of Winnipeg.

“Most of the workers feel overwhelmed, they’re always worried about the young people and we are trying our best to help them, encouraging them to call somebody, not to keep quiet about how they’re feeling,” she said.

Robinson was one of the people who organized the suicide prevention walk. It was meant both to support the grieving families and to reach out to anyone struggling and considering suicide.

“It was very emotional and everybody tried to comfort them and talking to them, encouraging them, showing their support. It’s all we can really do at this moment. There’s no words to say, to comfort a family that’s very heartbroken right now,” she said.

“It was an overwhelming feeling, like you can feel the love that everybody came together to make it work.”

Posted on March 5, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Dolphin and commented:
    It’s just my opinion…but they don’t need more mental health workers…who want to drug them up with legal psychiatric drugs so they’re numb and don’t feel anything anymore. They don’t work and they cause more issues than they solve. I’m from the outside looking in and no disrespect is intended, but rather, an observation of how much has been lost by the disconnect from nature, Spirit, and those of like minds. The traditional way respected and valued women…this is a factor in a young woman’s growing view of herself. Fifteen is that age of half-child, half-woman and being lost in society’s definition of her value probably contributed to her decision. Her weakened, wounded spirit didn’t have the strength to get through a dark moment. Bless her family and her spirit…

  2. Reblogged this on ARISE-TO-TRASH and commented:
    This is serious people!! Wake up!

    Please take the time to write to your local premier or to Justin Trudeau about your thoughts on this. Speak from your heart and if no words can come out, search example letter on my blog and you can use the letter I sent to help you. I also included mailing addresses to Justin Trudeau and David Zimmer to make it easier.

  3. My heart and healing energy is extending out to everyone hurting because of these losses, especially those who are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts.

    You are not alone. I don’t know you, but I love you.

  4. For many years now I have been listening about the alcohol & drug problem faced by our young people and I asked my adopted grandmother and Spiritual Teacher what can I do. Her answer to me was we have to light the sacred fire and pray for the young people, it is very sad to see all the suicides. I really believe that the people have to go back to our traditional ways, I agree with Dolphin statement above we don’t need more mental health workers who are going to give them more drugs. Our people need to connect with Spirit, Find the traditional healer and go to the ceremonies.

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