Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are native suicides really linked to a weak sense of identity?


The editorial, Root causes of suicide by children (May 21), posits that greater cultural identity is the answer to preventing aboriginal suicides. Prof. Michael Chandler is presented as a titular authority on the subject and has evidently conducted research of B.C. reserves. There is generally a troubling sureness in the editorial, a degree of certainty that verges on dismissiveness.

Contrary to intuition, Chandler found that "levels of poverty, location of reserve, number of children in care, unemployment rate and family structure -- are not reliable predictors of a community's suicide rate." A lot of us, I would assume, think reserves are inherently depressing and dysfunctional enough to prompt suicidal ideation. Noticeably absent from Chandler's list are the chronic social pathologies associated with remote reserves like Shamattawa.

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