September 9, 2019
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month, a time to share resources and feature support networks that can be used by anyone in crisis. Our suicide prevention research program, in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia, has reached the third and final phase, all with the help of CSFS Member nations.
The next phase in the continuing research for suicide prevention in CSFS member nations is now underway. The research program is a joint partnership between the Carrier Sekani Family Services and the University of Norther British Columbia (UNBC), and is led by Dr. Travis Holyk and Dr. Henry Harder. The focus is to improve on suicide prevention and mental wellness in Indigenous communities by using the traditional wellness methods of the Carrier and Sekani people.
The study first started in 2006, as the research team noticed a severe lack of research on Northern Indigenous communities and suicide prevention. The first phase centered around Indigenous youth, and ran until 2013.
From the start of the program, the research team has been advised by a committee made up of members from the CSFS Member Nations. It was decided between the committee and research team that a community-driven method of gathering data would be necessary, rather than using a Western approach. This prompted the research team to focus on gathering feedback from CSFS member nations throughout the duration of the study. With this collaborative effort, results were positive.
Some of the innovations brought about by the committee during the first phase included culture camps and canoe journeys. Youth who participated in these camps were able to reconnect with their cultural identity. The results demonstrated lower levels of depression and anxiety in the groups that attended the camps. Unique cultural inventions, such as culture camps, are essential in bringing communities together to prevent suicide.
After the first phase of the research, it was clear from committee feedback that the research was not inclusive enough. In 2014, the research team received another grant to expand the program to its second stage, this time focusing on young adults (ages 25-45). With that phase wrapping up in 2019, the effort to include all age groups has expanded further. Launched in August 2019, the third phase of the program is now focused on ages 45 and over.
The launch of the third phase was not only to serve as an introduction, but to have the committee participate in the development of methods and procedures for the program. The committee’s valuable feedback will be crucial, much like it was in previous phases of the study.
A member of the committee raised a valid concern during the recent launch, noting the struggles with how the communities in Northern BC are spread-out from each other. The research team hopes that by bringing the representatives of CSFS member nations together as part of a steering committee, communities will collaborate on efforts to research and prevent suicide amongst community members. To have CSFS member nations coming together for a common goal is a powerful image, one we hope will evoke inspiration and motivation for other Nations.
This important research project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The third phase will proceed from 2019-2024, so look for plenty more news about this program in the future!
If you ever need to speak to someone, or are in a crisis, there is help available 24/7:
- Crisis Service Canada – toll free: 1.833.456.4566 (Available 24/7)
- Northern BC Helpline – toll free: 1.888.562.1214 (24/7)
- BC-Wide Crisis 24 hrs: 1.800.SUICIDE (1.800.784.2433)
- First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness 24/7 Help Line: 1.855.242.3310
- Canadian Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1.866.925.4419
Article written by Jordan Cryderman, Digital Writer
© Carrier Sekani Family Services, 2019
Last modified: Friday 12-Jun-20 15:43:45 PDT