After 11 people attempted suicide in just one day, a Canadian indigenous community declared a state of emergency on Sunday, calling for more government help to fight the mental health crisis afflicting many native communities.
The Attawapiskat First Nation community is located in a remote town in northern Ontario. It is home to 2,000 people–and according to the CBC, there were 28 suicide attempts last month and 100 attempts since last September, with one fatality.
"I'm asking friends, government, that we need help in our community," Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh told the CBC. "I have relatives that have attempted to take their own lives… cousins, friends."
Shisheesh told the broadcaster the reasons for the high suicide attempt rates could range from overcrowded housing, bullying, and students being forced to attend residential schools far from their families, to drug addiction.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the situation is "heartbreaking."
Young people from several First Nation communities marched to Attawapiskat to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention last week:
A team of emergency health workers from native, state and federal agencies have been flown to the area after the crisis was declared on Sunday, the CBC reported.