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Suicide rate of Inuit youth 30 times higher than other Canadians

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Inuit children and teens have a mortality rate about five times higher than their peers living elsewhere in Canada, and the rate is showing no sign of improvement.

Suicide accounted for a much larger share (40 percent) of deaths among young people living in the four Inuit regions than in the rest of the country (8 percent), Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

"In 2004-2008, children and teenagers in Inuit Nunangat were more than 30 times as likely to die from suicides as were those in the rest of Canada," Dafna Kohen of the agency's health analysis division wrote along with her co-authors.

"The persistently high mortality rates for children and teenagers living in Inuit Nunangat, compared with the rest of Canada, are important for understanding the health and socioeconomic situation of residents of this region."

The disparity in overall mortality rates has persisted since the mid-1990s, the agency said.

Statistics Canada analyzed causes of death among people ages 1 to 19 in Inuit Nunangat or "Inuit homeland," which extends from northern Labrador to the Northwest Territories.

In terms of other causes of death, children and teenagers living in Inuit regions were 3.6 times more likely to die from communicable diseases than those living in other areas of the country.

The researchers weren't able to calculate age standardized mortality rates by cause of death for the four Inuit regions because the numbers were too low.

The mortality rates were based on small populations with very small numbers of deaths.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media