Kelowna News

Coroner, First Nations urge B.C. to act on high number of youth deaths

Coast Salish representative and First Nations health council member Paul Sam, (left), looks on as Coast Salish elder Greg Sam talks about a report released about recommendations from a Death Review Panel on First Nations Youth and youth adults during a press conference in the Hall of Honour at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA - A new report on unexpected deaths says Indigenous youth in British Columbia died at a rate almost two times higher than non-Aboriginal youth over a six-year period ending in 2015.

The BC Coroners Service and First Nations Health Authority reviewed the unexpected deaths of 95 Indigenous young people between the ages of 15 and 24 during the period between January 2010 and December 2015.

They make a series of broad recommendations including reducing barriers to services for Indigenous youth and promoting connections to family, community and culture.

The review says prevention programs for Indigenous youth should consider a focus on cultural diversity and community strengths in their communities.

The report found accidental deaths in motor vehicle crashes, drownings and overdoses accounted for 60 per cent of Indigenous youth deaths, while suicide accounted for 32 per cent of the deaths.

The report says almost 25 per cent of the Indigenous youth who died were parents of young children.

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