UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
April 20th – May 1st 2015
Statement by Sáminuorra, Sámiráđđi and Suoma Sámi Nuorat
Submitted by Per Jonas Partapuoli, Chair, Sáminuorra
Item 3C: Youth, self-harm and suicide
Thank you Madam Chairperson,
This is a joint statement by three Indigenous Peoples Organisations, Sami Youth Organisation in Sweden and in Finland and Saami Council.
To know when someone is mental ill is wearisome. To also know that the individual can not recieve help for it’s illness is not only wearisome but also frustrating. It makes you angry, sad and feel offended. To live with this pressure and wait – Who will leave us next? – could in itself trigger mental illness.
Today we face an growth of mental illness among indigenous youth that is in every sence highly critical. At the same time the health institutions and health care services lack competence about the situation for these youths. The result of this is insufficent and unacceptable treatment.
Anxiety, depression and the struggle for land are eroding the powers and vitality of young herder. In Sweden, One in three young reindeer herders between the age of 18 and 29 have considered suicide. One in three.
It testimones the terrible catastrophe and problem we face. We are being disarmed, we are loosing our people’s future leaders, voices and fighters for our people’s survival.
Sápmi, the land of the Sámi, is spread across four states wich three of them are Scandinavian with a good existing healthcare system. But in the swedish and finnish side of Sápmi exists no specific institutions, as healthcare centers, that address the Sámi community or hold resources with cultural competence.
In Norway the efforts in suicide prevention works better, where a national competence center for mental illness and drug abuse exists. They hold competence from the Sámi community with Sámi psychologists and an understanding of the issues that Sámis are faced today. The centre is a role model when it comes to suicid prevention amongst indigeaous people. We welcome all initiativs where cultural competence is taken in account when special competens is needed in this line of work, that is recruited within the indigenous community,
That indigenous people are losing land is not uncommon, rather a rule. Losing the traditional lands and waters that you are completely dependent on for the survival and ability of your traditional livelihood. It’s tough! It’s not surprising that indigenous people around the world suffer from mental illness or wellness problems when we are faced with these situations. Although in many cases is a direct result of a political decision in the national state, but the absence of responsibility on the issue and recognition remains silent.
It is of upmost importance that international bodies intervene in these questions and create an international standard and coordinate the work against suicide amongst indigenous people. Therefor we recommend that:
Healthcare is adapted in culture and language to the indigenous individual where the cultural competense will be recognised.
UN Permanent forum on Indigenous issues include in its report to ECOSOC that an action plan compiles on how to work preventative against suicide among indigenous people.
and that the states follows Norway’s example and establish institutions to work with mental illness and drug abuse with indigenous competence. Remember, nothing for without us.
Finally, we want to say that we are incredibly tired of having to live with the feeling of who is going to commit suicide next. We do not want to bury more of our friends and collegues. We do not want to see more young people suffering from mental illness.
Thank you, madam chairperson.