Amid heightened calls for mental health supports, a 10-year-old girl in northern Saskatchewan has taken her own life.
Grand Chief Ron Michel of the Prince Albert Grand Council said the latest suicide involved the child from Deschambault Lake, about 500 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
Michel revealed the news Tuesday to hundreds of shocked and saddened delegates at the council’s annual assembly in Prince Albert.
“It’s with great sadness to hear what happened to that little girl today,” Jobb said.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us…a great deal of work we need to do, we can’t let this happen.”
It comes after two girls from Stanley Mission and one from La Ronge, all between the ages of 12 and 14, committed suicide earlier this month.
Michel says he wants dozens of northern communities involved in the council to talk to their young residents and create a plan of action to stop the suicides.
Saskatchewan’s Children’s Advocate, Bob Pringle, said a member of his staff is currently working in the northern part of the province and has been in contact with Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson.
“(We’re), obviously, offering our hugs, love and prayers. But also, we’re a voice for children, we’re a voice for youth. So we want to be supportive where we can,” Pringle said.
Pringle said he’s had heart-wrenching conversations with people on the ground responding to the crisis.
“I think some communities are feeling desperate today. I’ve been told by some, the question is, ‘what family is it going to be next week or tomorrow’?”
Pringle planned to be in Regina for the opening of the Legislature and hopes to hear a concrete plan to address the crisis.
“This needs to be a wake-up call to all of us in the province. Just a strong message that we have to build in services like mental health, addictions services, support services,” Pringle said.
As he nears the end of his term as Children’s Advocate, Pringle said he still has hope solutions will be found.
“I’m sure Saskatchewan people will never say, it’s just something that’s going to happen. We need to learn something about what has happened here,” Pringle said.
First Nations officials said last week there had been numerous suicide attempts this month and that more than 20 youths were considered at risk.
– With files from paNOW.