Third child suicide sparks state of emergency in Canadian First Nations community

A small native community in Canada has declared a state of emergency after a third 12-year-old girl involved in a suicide pact took her own life.

Jenera Roundsky was found dead near an outdoor rink last week while Jolynn Winter died in early January and Chantel Fox died two days later.

It's understood the suicide pact became known to leaders in the small community last summer.

According to CBC News, aproximately 40 children and teens in the Wapekeka First Nation community are at risk of suicide, leading Wapekeka First Nation to write to Health Canada to ask for funding to help the community deal with mental health issues affecting young people there.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, along with Northern Ontario Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Grand Chief Jonathon Solomon and a community representative from Wapekeka held a press conference in Ottawa, demanding a national suicide strategy.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde was part of a press conference held this week declaring a state of emergency. Source: The Canadian Press

"When is it the right time for this government to act?" Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler asked.

Four girls are in crisis and have been flown out of Wapekeka, a remote, fly-in community 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. And 26 more students are considered “high risk” for suicide because of the loss and trauma of the others.

Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon said "our communities are tired".

"Yes the government may announce initiaives but sadly they are just dragging their feet while we continue to bury our loved ones - certainly actions would be louder than words," he said.

A suicide-prevention program in Wapekeka was cancelled two years ago.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the current processes

The community also used to run an annual Survivors of Suicide Conference, but lack of funds led to its cancellation.

Jenera had been on suicide watch but returned home in the last few weeks, according to reports.

Health Canada pledged $380,000 after the suicides of the first two girls, according to CBC News.

The community is hoping to get more assistance with the declaration of the state of emergency.

Wapekeka First Nation has a population of approximately 400 people and is located in Ontario.

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling Lifeline 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467, or Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36.