Groups demand help after children form suicide pact
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2012 6:00PM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7:41PM PST
The disturbing discovery of a suicide pact involving dozens of East Vancouver youths has community groups demanding immediate government intervention to prevent an inner-city tragedy.
The pact was formed by children from Grandview-Woodlands, a neighbourhood located next to the poorest postal code in Canada, and had gathered 30 names by the time police were alerted to it in September.
“A coordinated crisis team intervened, admitting 24 to the hospital for their own protection,” aboriginal advocate Scott Clark told reporters Tuesday, adding that “this was not an isolated incident.”
Most of the youth were First Nations, and all were between 12 and 15 years old.
Among those hospitalized was Skyeagle, a 15-year-old who denied joining the pact but admitted she has been suicidal in the past.
“The cops arrested me and they took me to the hospital and they wouldn’t let me go,” Skyeagle told CTV News. “There was a couple that attempted suicide on that day but most of them got released on the same day as me.”
Clark said the pact was preceded by self-destructive binge drinking over the spring and summer that resulted in some of the youth suffering alcohol overdoses.
After the intervention, most of the children went back to drinking. A few tried to commit suicide independently, but survived.
The ongoing situation has led community groups including Clark’s to call for the “immediate implementation of a place-based inner-city youth strategy that coordinates resources.”
The advocacy groups says the current system fails to provide long-term preventative resources for children dealing with issues such as drug or alcohol-addicted parents and domestic violence.
“We need to change now; the very lives of our children are at risk,” Clark said.
The group wrote to the B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development, Stephanie Cadieux, arguing the province isn’t doing enough to identify and assist those at risk of suicide.
A spokesperson for the ministry issued a statement to CTV News Tuesday saying that it is continuing to monitor the situation and ensuring youth get the services they require.
“In the meantime, the ministry and the local health authority has increased its prevention focus and is providing suicide education to families, agencies and school personnel in the area,” it said.
The ministry added that it is open to being contacted by any community agency to discuss concerns and solutions.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Rob Brown