At least 30 youths, mostly aboriginals between the ages of 12 and 15, formed a suicide pact in Vancouver earlier this year, and instances of children consuming alcohol to the point of blacking out and others inflicting self harm have been linked to the pact.
Police learned of the pact when officers found youth chatting about suicide on social media. “To my knowledge it wasn’t suicide attempts, it was discussions regarding future suicide plans,” Sgt. Randy Fincham of the Vancouver police told CBC.ca. “So there was no intervention that had gone that far, to my knowledge, where any of these youths had attempted to commit suicide.”
But since police discovered the pact, five young people in the area attempted suicide. Police have intervened and hospitalized 24 of the teens for their own safety.
A report by the Network of Inner City Community Services underscores shortfalls in area services and calls for a “place-based strategy” to provide more targeted mental health services and support, especially pertaining to special needs including addiction, family violence and abuse, and limited public resources.
“[The system] has not provided an adequate, preventative, long-term response to children and families living in the community and their day-to-day realities,” the report states. “These children and youth need positive relationship-based connections to family, peers and workers to help them both navigate these systems and have positive, healthy outcomes.”