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Curriculum aims to prevent suicide of First Nations youth

According to Statistics Canada, suicide is the leading cause of death among young people. Within this demographic, First Nations youth are at a three times higher risk for attempting and completing suicide than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

A new curriculum for teachers or other professionals working with First Nations youth aims to reduce that risk.

Developed by Harvey A. McCue, a member of the Georgina Island First Nation and founding faculty member of Trent University's Indigenous Studies Program, and G. Brent Angell, UWindsor professor emeritus and past director of the School of Social Work, the First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum consists of 24 one-hour classroom sessions, enhanced by innovative and interactive 360-degree videos.

The curriculum is experiential and includes detailed guidelines for educators as well as all required materials for in-class activities such as group discussions, quizzes, games, and other projects that provide opportunities for each youth participant to journal their journey of health and well-being.

The project was funded by Indigenous Services Canada and involved a number of University of Windsor alumni and students, including principal researcher and writer Amy Alberton (BA 2010, MSW 2016), a doctoral candidate in social work; Jessica Bakker North (BA 2012, B.Ed 2012, MSW 2015) from Chigamik Community Health Centre; and Naomi Williams (BA 2007, MSW 2009), also pursuing doctoral studies in social work.

Prof. McCue and Dr. Angell were also joined by Dylan Pearce from ReDefined Entertainment, who directed and produced the video aspects of the project, and First Nations comedian Howie Miller, who narrated the videos.

The curriculum is available free online, notes Angell, and has already in use by professionals.

“Youth suicide is huge,” he says. “We are fairly confident from the feedback we’ve gotten that it will help make a difference in terms of reducing risk.”

To view the curriculum, go to www.FirstNationsSuicidePrevention.com.