LOON LAKE, Sask. — Another indigenous girl has committed suicide in northern Saskatchewan — the fifth this month.
Barry Chalifoux, a grief counsellor for a school on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan reserve, said the 13-year-old killed herself on Tuesday.
Her funeral was held Friday in the remote community about 300 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert.
"We are still having a difficult time, especially those of us from the school and the family has been taking it really hard,'' Chalifoux said. "We have supports in place for the family and for our students.''
"We are still having a difficult time, especially those of us from the school and the family has been taking it really hard."
A team of grief counsellors were brought in to help students cope and a letter has been sent to parents encouraging them to watch for signs of suicide in their children.
"Due to the circumstances of this loss, our school and education team has mobilized an immediate crisis response team that has been actively working with our students both directly and indirectly connected to the loss,'' reads the letter dated Oct. 25 and sent out by the First Nation's school.
"Parents are encouraged to speak to our counselling department in the event that students show unusual signs during this time.''
Suicides are a crisis: Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations
Four other girls between 10 and 14 have taken their own lives this month in northern communities, including Stanley Mission, Deschambault Lake and La Ronge
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is calling the suicides a crisis that requires more action from the federal and provincial governments.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the earlier suicides in northern Saskatchewan a tragedy and said the federal government is committed to working with indigenous communities to deal with the problem.
Last week, Health Canada said more mental-health workers and other health-care professionals have been sent to communities that have requested them.
Chalifoux said it is challenging to get young people to seek help.
"A lot of these kids are writing to their friends — 'I'm going to hurt myself' — but the kids, they offer words of comfort, but they don't actually seek help for their friends out of fear that they will lose their friends, because they will say 'don't tell anyone.''' (MBC, The Canadian Press)
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please contact a 24-hour distress line in your area.