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Ottawa offers help to suicide-pained Vancouver Island First Nation

VICTORIA - The federal government is preparing to put together a relief plan for a B.C. First Nation that has declared a state of emergency over a disturbing spike in suicides and attempted suicides.

A spokesman for Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says federal and provincial health officials are preparing to meet with Cowichan Tribes officials to offer help.

Cowichan Tribes Chief Harvey Alphonse asked for help from the governments after four suicides involving aboriginals males this year.

He says a pervasive sense of hopelessness that hangs over much of the Cowichan nation has also led to 52 suicide alerts in his east coast Vancouver Island community this year.

Health spokesman Steve Outhouse says Ottawa has programs to help First Nations who reach out in such crisis situations.

He says he expects federal, provincial and Cowichan health officials to meet shortly and determine what kind of help is required.

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