The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has expanded regional capacity in life promotion and suicide prevention activities by hiring regional youth coordinators who are working to increase connectedness, wellness, safety, and resilience in their communities.
“My teachings and my belief is that culture heals by using the medicines gifted to our people from Creator, to use our waters to cleanse and being connected to the land and our traditional teachings," said Brittley James, one of the new FNHA youth coordinators.
While the topic of suicide is complex, strengths-based approaches - including cultural revitalization, supporting youth wellness and addressing the broader social determinants of health and wellness - are all key factors that promote life.
Throughout the pandemic, First Nations communities and youth coordinators have been collaborating to reach youth and promote wellness, including:
This year for Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10), communities are hosting events, gatherings and ceremonies to honour loved ones lost to suicide, reduce stigma and facilitate healing for people of all ages, including some supported by the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention (NAYSPS) leads and FNHA youth coordinators:
One event's focus is on developing community capacity to work through complicated grief, which can arise after losing a loved one to suicide.
“Suicide is complex and the grief for family and friends following the suicide of a loved one is just as complicated," said Dr. Nel Wieman, Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer. “However, what is clear is that culture and connection saves lives. When pain and grief becomes overwhelming, it's important that we seek support."
According to the 2015-17 Regional Health Survey, men are less likely to reach out and speak about their mental and emotional wellbeing. Henry Morgan, Crisis Response Community Coordinator for the Northern Region, said he promotes men's wellness in partnership with DUDESCLUB.
“Having a men's movement to support men - designed by men - does reduce suicide, knowing that they are not alone," he said. “It is the guidance and experience of our Elders to show and provide healthier living and cultural connection."
On Suicide Prevention Day, let us all know and remember that positive change is happening and believe in each other as we walk this collective path of healing and wellness.
FNHA Life Promotion and Suicide Prevention Resources
KUU-US CRISIS LINE
Adult Crisis Line: 250-723-4050
Youth Crisis Line: 250-723-2040
Phone (toll-free): 1-800-588-8717
New Suicide Prevention Nursing Guidelines
FNHA's nursing team has also been supporting suicide prevention efforts by developing and releasing a new suicide prevention nursing practice guidelines document to support nurses in their practice including suicide risk assessment, prevention and intervention in culturally-safe and trauma-informed ways. This practice tool is available to all nurses working with First Nations communities and can be found on the FNHA Nursing Gathering Space site.