Psychosocial, Ethical and Aboriginal Health Research

Leaders: Monique Séguin, Laurence Kirmayer, Eric Racine

The focus of the RQSHA, i.e., suicidal behaviors, mood disorders and their interaction with substance disorders, do not affect all Quebecers equally. Moreover, the research that will be promoted by our network is innovative and thus will raise important ethical and societal questions.

This strategic group will support psychosocial and transcultural research, and consider ethical issues arising from the network's work.

One important example of the work to be supported by this strategic group is suicide among Aboriginal communities. Suicide is clearly an important public health problem in Québec and Canada, but nowhere this problem is as striking and extreme as among Aboriginal communities. For instance, the average annual rate of suicide by Inuit in Nunavut since 1999 has been around 120 per 100,000, while for Canada, for the same period the average rate has been 10-fold lower or around 12 per 100,000. These rates are even more alarming when considering only young age groups, which, for the same period of time, average around 750 per 100,000. The situation in Québec’s Nunavik region is similar. Our network has been supporting work over the last 4 years investigating Aboriginal suicide and exploring avenues for intervention. We have begun a program of research on developing community-based suicide prevention and mental health promotion strategies and need to continue in this important path to better understand and intervene on factors explaining the significant suicide risk inequity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. 

The aim of the Strategic Group on Psychosocial, Ethical and Aboriginal Health Research of the RQSHA is to advance research investigating psychosocial factors in mood disorders, substance disorders and suicide, engage in important ethical studies of the research supported by the network, as well as the knowledge produced, and foster initiatives to address suicide risk among Aboriginal peoples of Québec.