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Inuit Youth Mortality Rates 'Persistently High'

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INUIT CEMETERY
Cape Dorset, an Inuit community in Nunavut, has a population of about 1,200 and is known for their great soapstone sculptures and prints but also has a problem with serious crimes, including murder and suicide. This photo was taken in the Cape Dorset cemetery in August, 2011. The Canadian Press/Justin Nobel | CP

Inuit children and teens show a mortality rate about five times higher than their peers living elsewhere in Canada, and the rate is showing no sign of improvement.

Suicide accounted for a much larger share (40 per cent) of deaths among young people living in the four Inuit land claim regions than in the rest of the country (eight per cent), Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

"In 2004-2008, children and teenagers in Inuit Nunangat were more than 30 times as likely to die from suicides as were those in the rest of Canada," Dafna Kohen of the agency's health analysis division and co-authors wrote.

"The persistently high mortality rates for children and teenagers living in Inuit Nunangat, compared with the rest of Canada, are important for understanding the health and socio-economic situation of residents of this region."

The disparity in overall mortality rates has persisted since then mid-1990s, the agency said.

Statistics Canada analyzed causes of death among people aged one to 19 in Inuit Nunangat or "Inuit homeland," which extends from northern Labrador to the Northwest Territories.

In terms of other causes of death, children and teenagers living in Inuit regions were 3.6 times more likely to die from communicable diseases than those living in other areas of the country.

The researchers weren't able to calculate age standardized mortality rates by cause of death for the four Inuit regions because the numbers were too low.

The mortality rates were based on small populations with very small numbers of deaths.

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