A Review of First Nation Youth and Young Adult Injury Deaths: 2010-2015

Injuries are one of the leading causes of death among First Nations people. Although the reasons First Nations youth and young adults die are similar to their non-First Nations peers, there are continuing disparities in injury and mortality rates for First Nations young people.

To better understand the gap, the BC Coroners Service (BCCS) in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) convened a First Nations death review panel in December 2016 to review the circumstances of unexpected deaths of 95 First Nations youth and young adults (age 15 to 24 years), who died between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2015. Previously the BCCS had completed a number of child death review panels for all children and youth, and specific reviews for youth and young adult deaths. Although these earlier panels included information about Aboriginal peoples, the recommendations applied to all young people and did not focus specifically on First Nations communities.

This review focuses specifically on First Nations peoples. It considers the historical legacy of colonization, the impact of the social determinants of health, and the First Nations perspective on health and wellness when analyzing the facts and circumstances of deaths and to identify public safety opportunities, including those specific to First Nations peoples, and to prevent future similar deaths.

The First Nations review panel members were appointed under the Coroners Act. The review panel was comprised of professionals with expertise in Indigenous health, injury prevention, child welfare, public health, education, law enforcement and academia.

During the six-year review period (2010-2015), an average of 16 First Nations youth and young adults died each year from preventable injuries. The circumstances of the youth and young adults who died were reviewed in aggregate. Current research and statistics were reviewed and key themes identified.

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