chapter  4
24 Pages

Solution-Focused Approaches to Crisis

In 1994 I was in Iqaluit, in what is now Nunavut (Canada’s eastern Arctic territory) for a national suicide prevention conference. The conference planners, experienced in suicide prevention efforts in general and in the northern context in particular, knew that for many conference attendees, discussion of suicide, even in prevention terms, could stir up painful memories. This was always true at such meetings, and most salient in the north, where so many families and whole communities have been devastated by suicide losses (Katt, Kinch, Boone, & Minore, 1998; Leenaars, 2006b; Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1995; Sakinofsky, 1998). Nunavut suicide prevention trainer and advocate Caroline Anawak once determined that

in a twenty-year period, this sparsely populated region had lost the equivalent of ten classrooms of children and teenagers to death by suicide (Anawak, personal communication, June 12, 2001). Part of the conference planning was to make “quiet rooms” available to participants at all times, with supportive counseling available in several languages from qualified volunteers. Attendees with relevant credentials were asked to indicate on the conference application form their willingness to serve shifts as volunteer counselors. I checked off the volunteer box, was informed of my three-hour shift, and didn’t think much about it until I had been in Iqaluit for a few days and the conference was under way.