Depression, Suicide and Aboriginal Peoples

Honouring Life Network:

The Honouring Life Network is a project of the National Aboriginal Health Organization. The Web site offers culturally relevant information and resources on suicide prevention to help Aboriginal youth and youth workers dealing with a problem that has reached crisis proportions in some First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in Canada.

In addition to providing a place for Aboriginal youth to read about others dealing with similar issues, the site allows for those working with Aboriginal youth to connect, discuss and share suicide prevention resources and strategies. The site’s directory of suicide prevention resources is updated on a regular basis with the hopes of providing Aboriginal communities with a comprehensive inventory of suicide prevention materials.

The website is designed to allow for sharing of resources between youth and youth workers to ensure the best possible information is made available to First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

Funded by Health Canada, the Web site stemmed from a joint working group of the Indian Health Services in the United States and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada.

The National Aboriginal Health Organization is an Aboriginal-designed and -controlled body committed to influencing and advancing the health and well-being of Aboriginal Peoples through knowledge-based strategies.


A Personal Story Dealing With Depression & Self Identifying as Gay


“I came out to my parents about my sexuality at the age of 16. To say the least, they did not take it well, nor were they supportive of who I really was. They thought it was not normal, that I was going through a phase, and if I continued to identify myself as ‘gay’, then I would live a life full of suffering and people looking down on me. I felt betrayed and hurt. Their words really hit me hard, because I was their son, someone they were supposed to love and support unconditionally. If my own parents do not want to accept me for who I am, then who else would? My depression and anxiety got worse. I started to take drugs, suicide crossed my mind many times. I had no self-esteem and felt as if I had no self-worth. I felt hopeless. I remember thinking ‘is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I be normal like other boys and change how I feel, to make my parents accept me?’ and I tried. I hid my sexuality for a long time and let my depression turn for the worst when I overdosed on drugs to get rid of all the pain I felt. My parents found me in my room unresponsive and took me to the hospital. A few days later, I was transferred to CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) where I was treated for my depression, anxiety and drug addiction through their Mood and Anxiety Program. I also learned about an organization called ‘The 519’ that works towards bringing LGBTQ individuals together to meet, participate and celebrate together. I decided to take a chance and attended some of their programs and met many people who were just like me and had gone through a similar situation as me. About 2 years later, with treatment, therapy and making new friends, I finally started to notice a change in myself, I finally felt accepted and safe. I finally felt normal. My parents are still not completely open to my lifestyle choices yet, but I know they will come around slowly. It really shocked them when I tried to kill myself, and they went through a lot of guilt, but now they are trying their best to understand me for who I am. I want to educate others with my experience and remind other LGBTQ youth that they are not alone, there is help out there, and it is not the end of the road.”

Dealing with depression and other mental illnesses is tough and challenging, but when an individual identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ), it can become much more difficult to cope when some people do not accept the for who they truly are. Many LGBTQ individuals feel alienated from others, and find themselves battling with their true identity versus the public’s perception. Sadly, many LGBTQ individuals find themselves resorting to suicide, because there does not seem to be a better option (their risk of suicide is 14 times more compared to their heterosexual peers and 20% greater for those living in unsupportive environments1,2). For those of you living with a mental illness, there is help out there- you do not have to suffer in silence. Let’s work towards creating more safe and supportive environments. Let’s talk depression.

LGBTQ- friendly Crisis Lines:

Trans Lifeline: (877) 330-6366

PFLAG Canada: 1-888-530-6777 ext 226

The Lesbian, Gay, Bi Trans Youth Line: 416-962-0777

For more information about ‘The 519’ click here :

For additional resources, help and support, visit:

~Joti, Humans of Depression Representative

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Suicide Ideation


Today’s topic of discussion for this blog may be uncomfortable for some, and is often an avoided discussion, yet it weighs heavily occurring at the hands of depression. Suicide is a reality and more common than you may think. In 2009, suicide was the ninth leading cause of death in Canada and it is the second leading cause of death for those between 15 and 34 years old1. Being a college or university student can lead to a lot of stress. It is a transitioning phase from adolescence to adulthood, and for some, there is more pressure than ever to make something of yourself and be successful. It can cause one to come face to face with many challenges leading to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and desperation when things just are not falling into place. Rather, everything seems to be spiraling out of control leaving one to have severely depressed feelings that life is unbearable. At times, it can become difficult in this age bracket to distinguish between behaviours of feeling stressed versus the signs that can lead to suicide.

Here are some behaviour changes to watch out for if you suspect someone you know is battling with depression and suicidal thoughts2:

  • Withdrawal from family and peers
  • Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
  • Difficulty concentrating on schoolwork
  • Neglect of personal appearance
  • Obvious changes in personality
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Changes in eating patterns, such as sudden weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • General lethargy or lack of energy
  • Violent actions, rebellion, or running away
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Loss of ability to tolerate praise or rewards

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, you may be able to help him/her find better ways to cope. Remember that help for their/your problems is available. Here are a few places to seek help2.

  • Visit your local emergency department or call 911
  • Contact a nurse at Telehealth Ontario by dialing 1-866-797-000
  • Call the Good2Talk support line at 1-866-925-5454 (for post-secondary students in Ontario aged 17-25)
  • Ontario Mental Health Helpline (open 24/7 for treatment anywhere in Ontario) 1-866-531-2600

~Joti, Humans of Depression Representative

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