Keven Drews in the Canadian Press. Discussion »
VANCOUVER Dozens of children, mostly aboriginals, formed a suicide pact in a downtown Vancouver community earlier this year that prompted police to step in and have some of them hospitalized for their own safety.
Other children blacked out from heavy drinking and participated in acts of self harm over several months this year, according to a document obtained by The Canadian Press.
While residents and professionals were able to respond to the crises between the spring and autumn, a community group is now calling for a major shift in how services are funded and delivered by the provincial government.
Troubling details of the incidents in the city's Grandview-Woodland area, which is located near the Downtown Eastside, are included in the report written by the Network of Inner City Community Services, a consortium of groups that helps co-ordinate the delivery of services to individuals, children and families.
Kate Hodgson, the group's executive director, did not respond to several requests for comment.
But Sgt. Randy Fincham of the Vancouver police said officers got involved after they were tipped off about youths who were chatting about suicide on social media.
"To my knowledge it wasnâ€™t suicide attempts, it was discussions regarding future suicide plans,"
"So there was no intervention that had gone that far, to my knowledge, where any of these youths had attempted to commit suicide."
Fincham said officers intervened and got the youths the help they needed.
According to the report, the suicide pact included 30 youths, 24 of whom were taken to hospital in late September as part of a "preventative crisis response."
The report says the children were between the ages of 12 and 15, were mostly aboriginal and lived in the Grandview-Woodland community.
During the summer, parents and outreach workers learned about "increasing incidents of self-harm in group context by inner city children and youth" the report adds.
Between the spring and summer, large groups of children, mostly 12 and 13 year olds from the same community, drank until they blacked out and had to be treated in BC Children's Hospital, the report says.
While the crises drew a response from youth and social workers, police and medical officials, the report says gaps in the system became apparent.
"(The system) has not provided an adequate, preventative, long-term response to children and families living in the community and their day to day realities,"
says the report.
"These children and youth need positive relationship-based connections to family, peers and workers to help them both navigate these systems and have positive, healthy outcomes."
The report recommends the adoption of a so-called "place-based strategy" to help deal with a high number of children with special needs, and a "culture of violence and failure in the inner city."
Other issues include parents struggling with addiction, family violence and abuse, and limited public resources.
The strategy would use schools, community centres and other public assets to provide ongoing mental health and family support services, and also keep children not in school still connected to schools. Read More »
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posted November 29, 2012 6:30 am est