As a crisis youth depression and teen suicide sweeps Canada’s indigenous communities, the one group is fighting back with a powerful new initiative aiming to connect with aboriginal teens on their home turf: the internet.
It’s part of the We Matter campaign, and the videos that comprise it don’t pull any punches.
Take BC MLA Melanie Mark, who has revealed she tried to take her own life when she was just 19-years-old.
WATCH: MLA Melanie Mark shares her personal experience with depression and suicide
In a video directed at indigenous teens facing inner demons, the Mount Pleasant MLA opens up about trying to overdose after being plagued by bullies and cruel comments.
“I want you to know, that whatever you are going through right now is going to pass.”
“One of my biggest fights was when I was 19 and I tried to take my life and I took a lot of pills and I thought my fight with what I was experiencing was over and that wasn’t the case, the creator had another plan for me.”
In the video, available on YouTube, Mark says she was lucky to survive her ordeal.
“You have to let people know that you need the help. My cry for help could have been lethal and I could have died but I was on the phone with my aunt and thankfully she did call the police to come get me because if it had been ten more minutes, I would have been dead.”
Mark made history in February as the first female First Nations MLA elected to the B.C. legislature.
It’s just one of dozens of videos posted by indigenous contributors, many who’ve fought their own battles, with one central theme: yes, you matter, and yes, your community loves and needs you.
The format echoes the wildly successful “It gets better” campaign founded in 2010 to give confidence to struggling LGBTQ youth.
It includes messages from everyday people, along with artists and community leaders like electronic music group A Tribe Called Red and author Joseph Boyden.
WATCH: Joseph Boyden opens up about his darkest hour
“When I was about 15 years old I knew that something was really wrong with me but I put up a really, really good pretend face, and nobody else seemed to know,” says Boyden.
The award winning author of The Orenda then goes on to describe how he used to cut and burn himself to let the pain out, a road that eventually ended with a suicide attempt, the moment when he realized he needed to do something.
“I realized I was lucky, and it doesn’t sound like I was lucky, I was a mess. But I was lucky because what I tried to do didn’t work. Here I am 34 years almost to the day later … telling you what you’ve got to do is allow yourself to be vulnerable … to tell people.”
Earlier this week, a state of crisis was declared in two Saskatchewan First Nations, as a string of youth suicides deepens with four deaths of kids aged 10-14 this month alone.
In July, the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario took similar action after 11 people tried to kill themselves.
Dozens more have died in recent years and scores more have made attempts.
WATCH: Attawapiskat youth Jack Jr. shares how he copes with dark feelings
With files from Niamh Anderson