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Moving Towards A Stronger Future. Can we find the commitment and the energy to make a contribution?. Linda Cairns PAGc Embrace life coordinator. Risk Factors. What are “risk factors”? Risk factors are those things in a person’s life that might take them to thinking about suicide.

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moving towards a stronger future
Moving Towards A Stronger Future

Can we find the commitment and the energy to make a contribution?

risk factors
Risk Factors
  • What are “risk factors”?
  • Risk factors are those things in a person’s life that might take them to thinking about suicide.
  • The factors vary for every person.
  • There are some common themes to look for and to listen for.
risk factor information
Risk Factor Information

Suicide rates amongst Canada’s Aboriginal people are higher than those of other Canadians.

Health Canada (1996) data suggests suicide rates amongst First Nation males are 2.6 times and for women 4 times higher than for the Canadian population in general.

Aboriginal youth are at 5-6 times greater risk than their non-Aboriginal peers

suicide risk factors
Suicide Risk Factors
  • The literature is clear that being a First Nation, Metis or Inuit person in and for itself does not pose a risk for suicide.
  • As with all people, context and perception are critical in determining suicide risk in First Nations, Metis or Inuit youth.
  • The document Choosing Life: Special report on Suicide Among Aboriginal People (1995) indicates that general risk factors for suicide such as mental illness, life history and life situations are common to all people.
first nation metis and inuit face additional life circumstances that increase their risk of suicide
First Nation, Metis and Inuit face additional life circumstances that increase their risk of suicide

Psychobiological factors such as depression and grief, which are made worse for many by the sheer number of deaths in small close-knit communities.

Life history factors including cultural discontinuity, disruption of families by outside intervention and prevalent substance use and abuse.

additional life circumstances continued
Additional Life Circumstances Continued
  • Socio-economic factors in which “living conditions are generally inferior to those of most Canadians. High rates of poverty, limited employment and education opportunities as well as deficiencies in sanitation and water quality are part of the context of the lives of many First Nation, Metis or Inuit.
  • Cultural stress results when people go through a massive, imposed change. The loss of land, pervasive breakdown of cultural norms, customs and institutional racism, as well as loss of identity are some of the stressors experienced by Aboriginal people since their contact with dominant cultures.
additional life circumstances continued1
Additional Life Circumstances Continued
  • Colonial relations have resulted in damage to all the elements of First Nation, Metis and Inuit culture, which define the essence of identity: language, customs, values, and beliefs. Kirmayer, Brass and Tait (2000) and Mussell (2002) report these factors are particular to Aboriginal people. The Health of Off-Reserve Aboriginal Population (2002) reports similar findings with respect to overall health determinants.

Many First Nations, Metis and Inuit experienced exclusion from the dominant society and alienation from a traditional lifestyle. They have “the terrible emptiness of feeling strung between two cultures and psychologically home to neither.” (Choosing Life p. 30)

emerging themes
Emerging Themes


Connected to dislocation; in care, separation

Social and economic conditions

Mental Health concerns

Substance abuse


Street involved


Exposure to violence


Contact, conquest, residential schools

protective factors
Protective Factors

What are “protective factors”?

Protective factors are those things that give troubled persons reasons for living.

Protective factors can be active in the individual, family and community.

  • The purpose of the discussion was to listen to one another’s point of view and to understand there are many protective factors.
  • The aboriginal youth Rod interviewed identified self-esteem,connection with others, changing thinking, and cultural community as the four most significant factors in their recovery from suicide ideation.
protective factors resources
Protective Factors Resources
  • Aboriginal Youth: A Manual of Promising Suicide Prevention Strategies White and Jodoin (2003)
  • Suicide Among Aboriginal People in Canada
  • Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series
  • What is Working, What is Hopeful … David Masecar
circle of courage martin brokenleg and larry bendtro
Circle of Courage Martin Brokenleg and Larry Bendtro
  • The Circle of Courage is based upon native values and the medicine wheel. The illustration incorporates the medicine wheel as well as the four spirits of the Circle of Courage.
belonging i matter
Belonging: I Matter

Resources for basic needs: shelter, food, water, health care.

Relationship needs: Connection with a variety of people who are supportive and demonstrate pro social competence.

Connections with history, culture, customs.

Belief in something greater than me; spirituality, faith, religion.

mastery i can
Mastery: I Can



Creative Problem Solving

Learn Things


Optimistic Outlook

Sense of Humour

independence i make a difference
Independence:I Make a Difference
  • I am my own person
  • I have initiative and leadership skills
  • I do the right thing
  • I have a sense of purpose
  • I ask tough questions of myself and others
  • I have self-discipline.
  • I have the ability to stand away from the negative behaviours; to adapt to negative behaviours by separating myself from the high and unrealistic expectations of myself.
  • I have influence; others listen to me.
generosity i care
Generosity: I Care

I care about other people

I contribute to the well-being of others

I am a role model

I care about myself

I do things to keep me healthy and safe

my role
My Role

To listen

To learn

To question

To educate

To support

To work with communities

To advocate for a youth voice.

To encourage.

To celebrate.

To promote, protect and preserve LIFE.

naysps vision
Naysps vision
  • Youth Identity and Empowerment
  • Youth Engagement and Leadership
  • Community Involvement and Traditional Teachings
  • Integrated, Holistic and Comprehensive Program
  • Crisis Response and Grief Recovery
  • Education and Awareness
youth identity and empowerment
Youth Identity and Empowerment
  • Advocate and encourage youth involvement and input
  • YAC (Youth Action Council)
  • Elder Involvement
  • MTSF
  • Leadership from the Heart
youth engagement and leadership
Youth Engagement and Leadership
  • Engage community at large
  • Focus on young adults
  • Opportunities for skill building for youth and adults
  • YAC formed in 10 communities
  • Advocate for creation of more fun and challenging volunteer opportunities for youth.
  • Creation of PATH
  • Lobby for leadership support for youth involvement in all community programs.
  • Violence is the number 1 concern of youth. Goal to decrease violence through ACTION of all but YOUTH is particular.
community involvement traditional teachings
Community involvement & traditional teachings
  • Establish strong youth/adult partnerships.
  • Involve community champions.
  • Foster an environment for mentorship; build capacity within the communities
  • Introduce MTSF
  • A holistic approach is involved in creation and delivery of all programs
  • Incorporate healing
  • Good Grief Camp for Youth
  • Elders actively involved.
  • Explore history and identity as FN in a respectful way.
  • Spiritual journey invites healing And positive change.
integrated holistic and comprehensive program
Integrated Holistic and Comprehensive Program
  • Developed a network of services and programs
  • Integrated holistic approach in planning and delivery
  • HOT, Good Grief Camp, Grief Outreach, YAC
  • Embrace Life program monitored and evaluated after every event and annually.
  • Remove the stovepipes (silos) to address change as a community not on behalf of a program or agency
  • Circle of Courage philosophy


Community Mobilization

crisis response grief recovery
Crisis Response & Grief Recovery
  • PAGC Crisis Response Team; sector approach
  • Local CRT’s initiated; capacity building
  • Team members trained is CISD, ASIST, MHFA, Healing Circles, and Grief and Loss
  • Resource lists for 11 communities completed
  • Need of Mental Health Therapist at PAGC
  • Full time therapists in each community needed
  • Grief Recovery Outreach ongoing at Holistic Wellness
  • All communities have trained facilitators; more action required
education awareness
Education & awareness
  • Support is always needed. But action and change is up to the community members
  • Training available :ASIST, safeTALK, suicideTALK, MHFA, MTSF, HOT, Grief and Loss, Youth Engagement, Youth Leadership, Building Strong Relationships, ….
  • Counseling and treatment available for addictions, mental health issues and gambling.
  • Strategy has been created
  • Focuses on prevention, intervention and postvention
  • Goal to reduce stigma & lateral violence; and to increase understanding of confidentiality
  • Exploring creative & innovative ways to communicate with youth
  • Celebrate and build upon the strengths
  • Increased access to training for all community members brings about positive change.
what i know for sure
What I Know for sure….

Suicide is a community problem that needs community ACTION.

what i know for sure1
What I know for sure…
  • We need to have a plan or vision otherwise we will get lost …
  • The past needs to be acknowledged
  • The present is here and now
  • Plan to make a future better, different or more than present
p a t h

Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope

Sustainable change takes patience, persistence and time.

change is necessary
Change is necessary

Many are resistant and fear change; but a change in attitude and habits can promote, preserve and protect LIFE.

energy is everything
Energy is everything

Energy is created through ACTION.

Positive change cannot happen without action.

mobilize the community
Mobilize the Community

A safe, vibrant, healthy community where everyone belongs.

Break down the silos/barriers.


everyone achieves more.

Youth need to feel they belong.

With vs. For

Volunteerism grows self esteem.

Involvement reduces violence.

community development strategies
Community Development Strategies

Community Development Strategies must address the complex nature of suicide in Aboriginal communities by looking at the following four areas:

Community Renewal

Cultural Enhancement

Traditional Healing Practices

Interagency Communication and Support.

what are some examples of community renewal
What are some examples of community renewal?

Community Education

Training in ASIST

Means Restriction

Youth Leadership

what are some examples of community education
What are some examples of community education?




Climate Improvement

what are some of the things that could take place in schools
What are some of the things that could take place in schools?

Family involvement

Esteem building

Life Skills

Suicide awareness information

what are some examples of family focused strategies
What are some examples of family focused strategies?

Asset interview

Refer page 56 of

What is Working, What is Hopeful…

youth need
.Youth need…
  • To be engaged so that their voice can be heard.
  • To be empowered.
  • To feel they belong and have purpose within the community
  • To be taught skills to help themselves and others.
  • 40 Developmental Assets
  • The opportunity to be responsible and accountable
  • To learn generosity; serve others…
  • Support from the leadership
  • Several mentors..
  • To mentor others…
  • A Youth Coordinator in each community
everyone needs to be trained in suicide first aid
Everyone needs to be trained in suicide first-aid.

Applied Suicide Intervention

Skills Training

ASIST works.

change happens one person at a time
Change happens one person at a time

Each person influences growth in a family and each family influences growth as a community.

change in attitude
Change in attitude


strength based approach creates healthy outcomes

celebrate what s right with the world
Celebrate what’s right with the world

Are YOU ready to be the best FOR the world?


“We live in a world of possibilities

. . . when we believe it,

we’ll see it.”



• Believe it and you’ll see it.

• Recognize abundance.

• Look for possibilities.

• Unleash your energy to fix what’s wrong.




• Ride the changes.

• Take yourself to your edge.

• Be your best for the world.




• Commit to the results you’re looking for.

• Find ways around obstacles.

• Have high expectations.



• Acknowledge all that you

have to work with.

• Broaden your definition

of winning.

• Look for ways to

work cooperatively

with others.



• Focus on opportunity,

rather than scarcity.

• Find what’s working.

• Keep looking for the

next possible answer.



• Connect with a

positive vision.

• Believe that solutions exist.

• Focus on what is right

with the situation.



• Realize that change

is possibility.

• Learn to live with

uncertainty, yet

act with confidence.

• Challenge the order

in your life.




• Trust yourself and create your own future.

• Follow your edge wherever it goes.

• Move beyond your best.




• Act with service and grace.

• Make a contribution through action.

• Talk about your successes to discover

your dreams.

thank you for listening
Thank you for Listening

Linda Cairns