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AVAILABLE EXPERT - Attawapiskat declares state of emergency

Monday, April 11, 2016

Queen's University professor Heather Stuart is available to comment on the state of emergency declared in Attawapiskat following a number of suicide attempts. The remote northern Ontario First Nation community has seen over 100 suicide attempts in the past seven months, including 11 on Saturday, April 9 alone.

“Suicide clusters occur when there is an excessive number of suicides or suicide attempts occurring closely together in time or space,” says Dr. Stuart. ”They generally occur in youth under the age of 25.”

”There can be many reasons for clustering, but a common explanation is social contagion. When one is exposed to the suicide behaviour of others, one is at greater risk because of greater emotional distress,” adds Dr. Stuart. ”In this case, suicide may come from a salient cultural script in a community that is traumatized by unemployment, poverty, transgenerational trauma, and erosion of cultural identity.  Lack of prevention, early intervention, and treatment services only adds to the difficulty.”

Dr. Heather Stuart is a professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, with cross-appointments to the Department of Psychiatry and the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University. She is also the Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-stigma Research Chair.

Dr. Stuart is available for telephone interviews for print and radio only.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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