Unikkaartuit: Meanings and Experiences of Suicide Among Inuit in Nunavut, Canada
Inuit in Arctic Canada have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Most of these suicides occur among youth, especially males, between the ages of 15 and 24. The goal of this study was to gain an understanding of Inuit experiences with suicide and what suicide means to Inuit, including suicide attempters and bereaved survivors. Fifty Inuit between the ages of 14 and 94 were interviewed about suicides in two communities in Nunavut. Sixty-three high school and college students were also surveyed with the same questions. It was found that suicide was most closely related to romantic relationship and family problems, and to experiences of loneliness and anger. These findings are interpreted in the context of massive social change, on-going colonization, and multigenerational trauma following the colonial government era of the 1950s and 1960s, when family and interpersonal relationships were significantly affected. The study stresses that suicide prevention strategies focus on youth and family, particularly on parenting, and ensure that Inuit communities take control of prevention programs. It recommends that family and community resources be further mobilized for suicide prevention.