Christmas Char on First Air

Youth and suicide

We both arrived early at the airport. I had only met P briefly before. She and her husband were well-known and liked. When I ate my meals at the Frobisher Inn they would often be there. He would come over to greet people including myself.

So there we were in the hustle and bustle of a small airport terminal in the middle of a not so typical Christmas conversation.

They have a twenty year old adopted child who had d… when he was young. This left this child with some weaknesses that P likens to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. This child had a very difficult time during his teen years in High School in Iqaluit. At one point he attempted suicide by overdosing. Fortunately he was saved but this has shaken P. P wondered what more they could have done!

When P was called into P’s son’s school for a crisis situation, P was told by one of the staff that they were dealing with about five crises concurrently. They were understaffed and the crises strained the already overworked staff.

Our conversation grew out of my expressions of strong feelings of being shaken by the multiple youth suicides around me. I commented that the elders could perhaps be available for consultations with the youth but also with anyone in the community who needs their listening ears and their lifetimes of wisdom born of experience. P cautioned that the elders were not perhaps the most well equipped to deal with youth issues. (P reminded my there were fiascos resulting from well intentioned elders offering unsound advice to women suffering from spousal abuse.) P was concerned that the elders were out of touch with contemporary issues. We both agreed however that Iqaluit was under serviced in terms of dealing with youth in crisis. There was really nowhere for troubled youth to turn. She suggested that maybe the new youth centre could have a 24 hour counseling service where youth could turn for help.

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