Sometimes when rookie cops come to Pikangikum ( police come in on a two-week rotation) they play the siren as they patrol trying to make children laugh. Maybe at the beginning of my first month here I would have found that funny but by the end of it I had joined a lot of locals whose hearts quickly seize up in fear over what the siren is telling the community. I realized how deeply that sound affected me when about two weeks ago as I was teaching a class of grade 8s and the intrusive sound cut me off mid sentence, I froze in fear and my mind went completely blank, it took me a minute to gather my thoughts all the while trying to decipher in what direction the police truck was going and selfishly praying it was not going to any home that I know. Even when I leave Pikangikum for a couple of days break and I hear a siren I am filled with fear, it takes time to calm my heart, reminding myself you are not there, you are here.
The rookie cop soon learns that in Pikangikum, sirens for most mean someone is close to death or someone is already dead. Most times that type of death is suicide. The rookie learns the lesson and doesn’t repeat that game again.
Between January and May this year, Pikangikum has had 4 suicides and countless attempts.
This is my first time writing about suicide, I cannot over emphasis how extremely sensitive this issue is. Maybe next time I will have the right words to unpack a little of what goes on in my mind when our fears are confirmed and someone has gone.