Generation at risk – UN Forum urges action to halt indigenous youth suicide

For centuries, indigenous peoples around the world have been forced to wage an existential struggle to protect their ways of life and the very fabric of their societies. Now, indigenous youth face additional risk as a wave of suicide and self-harm is ravaging communities in every region of the world, particularly in the Arctic, the Americas and the Pacific, says the United Nations.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took a look at this trend at its recent session, in New York, and recommended a range of actions to be undertaken by countries, and by the UN, to put a halt to the scourge of indigenous youth suicide.

indigenous-Peru-UNICEfThe Permanent Forum – which advises the UN’s Economic and Social Council on indigenous concerns – also called on countries to recognize that suicidal behaviour and self-harm are directly linked to historical injustices by colonial Powers, such as dispossession of lands and resources and denial of human rights, combined with the loss of self-identification and a departure from the roots of traditional culture and ways of life.

The UN News Centre spoke with some of the participants in the Permanent Forum who offered personal insights into the causes of indigenous youth suicide and self-harm, and steps that could be taken to end it [see the video on top of this page]. 

The photo [above left] shows indigenous children walking home from school in the district of Huallanca, Peru. Classes are taught in Spanish, and students who speak only their native Quechua have difficulty understanding their lessons, resulting in high drop-out rates, says the UN Children’s Fund. [UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1606/LeMoyne]

Source: UN News Centre

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