An isolated community has declared a state of emergency after its third child suicide this year.
Jolynn Winter, Chantel Fox and Jenera Roundsky, all 12, have taken their own lives since January.
They are believed to be part of a suicide pact that began last summer.
Community leaders learned of the pact last summer and had hoped to prevent the loss of life. Jenera, one of 40 young people deemed at risk of suicide in Wapekeka, received specialized care outside of the community, reports APTN.
Jenera Roundsky was the latest child to die. She was found by another child near the community’s outdoor rink last week. Jolynn Winter died on Jan. 8, while Chantel Fox died two days later.
Nearly 40 young people from the community are currently considered to be at risk of suicide; that represents about 10 per cent of the population of Wapekeka.
Following the January deaths, Health Canada set aside $380,000 annually to pay for four youth mental health workers in Wapekeka until 2019.
But community leaders say the money has yet to arrive and they’re still floundering. “We don’t have enough personnel to keep watching people on a 24/7 basis that are at high risk.
We try, but we just don’t have the resources,” Wapekeka band manager Joshua Frogg tells the CBC. He hopes the state of emergency will trigger an immediate response.
In addition to mental health workers, Frogg says a health and safety plan should be in place for at-risk youth returning to Wapekeka. No such plan was in place for Jenera, he says, adding she was allowed to return home against the advice of a psychiatrist.
The state of emergency asks for an immediate response from Ontario and provision of the necessary services for the community.