A third preteen died in an alleged suicide pact discovered last summer, and it has resulted in a “mental crisis” among dozens of other children. Consequently, the Wapekeka First Nation declared a state of emergency as the community grapples with the disturbing adolescent deaths.
Based on New York Daily News reports, Jenera Roundsky, 12, died last week after taking her own life. Her lifeless remains were found near an outdoor rink. Authorities declared the cause of death was an apparent suicide.
Two other 12-year-old girls, who allegedly made a pact to commit suicide, died earlier this year. Jolynn Winter took her life on Jan. 8 and Chantel Fox followed suit just two days later, according to The Star.
Joshua Frogg is a band manager in Wapekeka and Chanal’s uncle. He spoke to media sources after Jenera’s untimely passing, saying “this is a very high number for a small community like ours.”
The region consists of about 400 Oji-Cree residents spread over an area some 259 miles northeast of Sioux Lookout in Ontario. Officials estimate about 40 other children are at risk of suicide. Therefore, to Frogg’s point, about 10 percent of the population is under threat of suicide pacts.
Frogg stressed the importance of allocating more resources and devising interventions to address the suicide crisis among preteen girls in the Canadian community. He vented about the lack of a “plan of care” for Jenera, who was under suicide watch just before returning home recently.
“Our people are getting tired. So now little kids, 10-, 11-, 12-year-olds are helping our people as first responders and this is not acceptable. They are the ones at risk. We need help, boots on the ground, people properly trained to assess and determine and help as needed — we don’t need 11 and 12-year-olds on the front lines trying to save their friends, that adds trauma.”
Health Canada committed nearly $400,000 after Chantal and Jolynn’s suicide pact, but the funds still fall short of what the community needs to address the growing crisis. Meanwhile, according to the Canadian Red Cross media relations adviser Jennifer Ouellette, her agency is being tapped for support.
“As the community identifies what assistance is required, the Red Cross will continue to be actively engaged in these discussions to determine how we might be able to support the Wapekeka First Nation during this very difficult time, based on our capacity, resources and areas of expertise.”
While the Canadian community is reeling over the recent suicide deaths of three preteen girls, its neighbor to the south is also experiencing a similar turning point within its borders. NPR noted that overall suicide rates in the United States are rising, with adolescent girls being the most vulnerable.
Sally Curtin works as a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics, a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She noted how suicide rates dipped in the ’80s and ’90s but reversed course. Today, about 13 out of every 100,000 people die by suicide.
Unfortunately, health practitioners have not drawn a consensus about the reasons behind the spike in suicides. However, one hypothesis, as sources point out, is “earlier puberty.”
The IBTimes wrote that the pact suicides are likely the result of an “echo cluster.” This phenomenon has reportedly resulted in tight-knit communities like Wapekeka that are known for close emotional ties.
If you or anyone you know are considering self-harm, get help fast by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The line is open 24 hours daily.
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