POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 73 non-Indigenous women who had similar thoughts. The 2007-08 Inuit Health Survey also showed that 29 per cent of Inuit have attempted suicide in their lifetime and 48 per cent have thought seriously about suicide. For Métis, thoughts of suicide are higher than non-Indigenous peers, particularly for women. Causes of Elevated Suicide Rates The causes of suicide involve a number of different factors, including social stressors (i.e., stressful life events) and biological, familial, psychological and community factors. (See Figure 1.) Usually, any individual who engages in suicidal behaviour experiences more than one of these factors. Causes of suicide can be separated into protective factors (i.e., conditions or attributes that assist in coping or preventing stresses) including resilience, which can buffer risk for suicide even amidst a great deal of adversity, and distal factors (i.e., predisposing factors), including poverty, genetics or a history of childhood maltreatment. Childhood abuse can cause suicidal behaviours into adulthood, which can be precipitated by certain stressful or tragic events, such as loss. Figure 1. Suicide Risk Factors Risk factors at multiple levels create increased risk for suicide at a community level and can set individuals on pathways of cumulative risk that lead to suicidal behaviour. Individual Risk Factors In the general Canadian population, risk for completed suicide is highest among males, aged 50 to 54 years old, particularly those who have depression, are socially isolated and have chronic medical problems. Psychological autopsies gather information on those who have completed suicide in order to understand these risks. These studies show high rates of mental illness, including depression; misuse of substances, such as alcohol, which can increase impulsive behaviour; and multiple recent stressors, such as loss. Recent evidence demonstrates that there may be two groups of people who engage in suicidal behaviour: a group that is younger than 26 years of age at first attempt and tends to have a history of childhood adversity, including physical and emotional abuse and cannabis misuse; and a group that is older than 26 years of age at first attempt, characterized by depressive disorders. Among Indigenous peoples in Canada, risk for suicide is highest in young people, particularly males. Many of the same risk factors for the general population are related to suicidal behaviour among Indigenous youth, such as depression and substance misuse.There is also evidence of the predisposing risk factors that affect other young people with elevated rates of suicide, especially early developmental adversity, such as trauma and abuse, including childhood sexual abuse.This early adversity can create a pathway of cumulative risk, from legal problems and challenges in relationships, to mental health issues and substance misuse. Access to the means of suicide may further increase risk. Many Indigenous youth who attempt suicide do so by hanging. Firearms are also a frequent means of suicide. It is difficult at times, especially in terms of hanging, to limit access to the materials used in suicide attempts. Social and Historical Factors Attention to individual risks can distract from comprehending the larger social and historical reasons for elevated suicide rates among some Indigenous communities in Canada. Suicide happens in a larger social context and is a marker of social and community distress. There is no evidence that Indigenous groups in Canada have historically elevated rates of suicide within their cultures. This is evident among Inuit, who have seen a steady increase since the 1980s compared, historically, with low rates of suicide. These patterns compel us to look for wider social explanations, such as the colonial context of settling Indigenous populations into reserves and settlements, and governmental policies surrounding education, social welfare, justice and policing.The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, established in 1991, documented the impact of many of these policies, stating: Our central conclusion can be summarized simply: The main policy direction, pursued for more than 150 years, first by colonial then by Canadian governments, has been wrong. Suicide among Indigenous Peoples in Canada (continued) (continued)