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Arctic Council representatives gather to review common approaches in reduction of Indigenous suicide rates across the Arctic

March 3, 2017 — The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are pleased to report on some of the steps being taken to address suicide in Arctic States with the closing workshop of the RISING SUN Initiative (Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups – Strengths United through Networks). This was the third of a series of collaborative workshops held under the auspices of the US Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, focusing on ways to effectively prevent suicide among Indigenous people in the circumpolar region.

The objective of the RISING SUN initiative was to develop a set of common definitions, measurements and standards to help healthcare workers in different systems better serve their communities, while helping policymakers measure progress, monitor the implementation of interventions, and identify local challenges to implementation. Participants examined how the RISING SUN complements key strategies such as ITK’s The workshop was also used as a platform for Finnish delegates towards the recently developed Mental Wellness Strategy for Saami Peoples and towards the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council between 2017-2019.

ICC, ITK and CIHR look forward to working with Finland who takes over chairmanship of the Arctic Council for 2017-2019 with suicide prevention as a continued shared priority.

“I was encouraged by the participation, particularly from those individuals who live in circumpolar communities. It is clear that mental wellness and suicide prevention is an urgent priority across the north. The network that has been created must be sustained and the work that remains must always be centred on community needs”
-Okalik Eegeesiak
Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council

“By working together, we strengthen our efforts to improve social equity and overcome the systemic barriers to suicide prevention. We are part of a movement towards change, and I felt a true spirit of partnership and goodwill among participants in RISING SUN. During the two-day workshop, I pledged to continue to do my part to address suicide among our people and I truly value the contributions and collective action of all partners towards our common goal.”
-Natan Obed
President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

“I was impressed by the commitment made by key organizations in finding concrete solutions that are both community-based and that effectively integrate Inuit knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing. I remain very encouraged to see this work continued and built on under the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council between 2017-2019.”
– Dr. Alain Beaudet
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research 

Quick Facts

  • Suicide rates for Inuit are 11 times the national average and among the highest in the world.
  • Suicide continues to be a major cause of premature and preventable death among Canadians and is a leading cause of death in young people.
  • RISING SUN is an initiative under the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council, coordinated by the Sustainable Development Working Group,
  • This workshop was a follow-up activity to the mental wellness symposium of 2015, led by Canada and collaborating countries.


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Patricia D’Souza
Senior Communications Officer

Phone: 1 (613) 292-4482
Email: [email protected]