Year: 2020 Source: American Journal of Community Psychology. (2011). 48, p 426-238. SIEC No: 20200477

Suicide among young Inuit in the Canadian Arctic is at an epidemic level. In order to understand the distress and well-being experienced in Inuit communities, a first step in understanding collective suicide, this qualitative study was designed. Fifty Inuit were interviewed in two Inuit communities in Nunavut, Canada, and questionnaires asking the same questions were given to 66 high school and college students. The areas of life investigated here were happiness and wellbeing, unhappiness, healing, and community and personal change. Three themes emerged as central to well-being: the family, talking/communication, and traditional Inuit cultural values and practices. The absence of these factors were most closely associated with unhappiness. Narratives about community and personal change were primarily about family, intergenerational segregation, an increasing population, more trouble in romantic relationships among youth, drug use, and poverty. Change over time was viewed primarily as negative. Discontinuity of kinship structure and function appears to be the most harmful effect of the internal colonialism imposed by the Canadian government in the 1950s and 1960s. Directions toward community control and action are encouraging, and are highlighted. Inuit community action toward suicide prevention and community wellness is part of a larger movement of Indigenous self-determination.