In September 2012, 26 year old Inuk man Solomon Uyurasuk was found dead in an RCMP jail cell. Sol’s death was deemed a suicide, though his family does not believe that is the truth. Sol’s death relates to a larger social issue in the territory of Nunavut, where the suicide rate is thirteen times the national average, with many of the suicides being committed by youth, who have issues with their cultural identity.
Sol uses the story of Solomon Uyurasuk as a bridge to address the very high suicide rate in Nunavut. Even though the territory has a population of only 35,000, the RCMP receives over a thousand calls a year for suicides or attempts. Many of these suicides, committed by those as young as 11, are the result of identity issues among the Inuit, who are stuck in a limbo between the traditions of their culture and the increasingly modern world.
Solomon Uyurasuk was actually a circus performer, who helped speak out against suicide. As such, the fact that he apparently hanged himself in an RCMP jail cell raises a lot of questions. In fact, his friends and family remain convinced that Sol’s death was actually a homicide. However, with suicide considered to be a normal fact of life in Nunavut, the authorities did not question the circumstances of Sol’s death.