Suicide is “not an easy tea and cookie conversation,” Cynthia Patterson told a gathering of about 200 indigenous Anglicans at the Seventh Sacred Circle. However, she added, the pandemic among aboriginal people can no longer be ignored.
In Nunavut, the suicide rate is 15 times the national average-which is 15 per 100,000 people. In the Arctic, it is 11 times the national average.
Families need to talk about suicide instead of sweeping it under the rug, said Patterson. “We have kids, aunts and uncles who die and the pain is so great…We don’t talk about them…It’s as if they’ve disappeared.”
For its part, the Anglican church has moved oversight of the suicide-prevention program to the indigenous ministry department, noted Patterson. The aim is to “extend its reach into every nook and cranny,” said National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald. Suicide prevention will now be part of training for clergy, catechists and other church workers, he told the Journal.-M.S.