NPR reports on suicides in Greenland

As some of you might know, the Kingdom of Denmark (or the Danish Realm) is formed by three autonomous countries – the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Denmark.

This has not always been the case – the Faroe Islands and Greenland was considered part of Denmark since the forming of the Kalmar Union in 1397, and didn’t become autonomous until 2005 and 2009 respectively. As a step towards becoming autonomous, both the Faroe Islands and Greenland received home rule – though in Greenland’s case, it didn’t have until 1979.

Before 1979, Greenland had been a colony of Denmark-Norway for centuries until 1953, where it was turned into a county in Denmark.

At the same time as Greenland was turned into a county, a lot of well-meaning Danes attempted to modernize the Greenlandic Inuits, making them less dependent upon seal hunting and fishing.

Some of the measures done in these attempts have since become known to the general public – most notable the story of the 22 kids that were taken from their parents in Greenland and put into foster care in Denmark, resulting in them loosing their language and culture. This is similar to things that has happened to indigenous people in Australia and Canada.

Such a forced modernization always have a negative effect on the local population – a negative effect that goes on for generations.

This receives very little coverage in Denmark.

Now, however I see that NPR has an article in Danish about the suicide rate in Greenland – a suicide rate that, at least partly, can be traced back to the policies of Denmark in Greenland.

Selvmord i Grønland: Det er ikke mørket, som dræber dig

There is also a version in English: The Arctic Suicides: It’s Not The Dark That Kills You

It is depressing that it takes a foreign newsmedia to cover a serious problem in a country that is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but unfortunately, the Danish media doesn’t seem to cover such subjects.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    It is depressing that it takes a foreign newsmedia to cover a serious problem …

    Welcome to a small taste of life in USAstan!

  2. Rune Olwen says

    This approach is much too religious.
    And to keep the people as the lowest in a hierarchy – that´s where each wave of feminism turned into verbosity and preaching morals; and I doubt very much if it is of use to young male members of minorities (the nonverbal “solution” to majority males is toxic masculinity, acting out ugly feelings against weaker beings; be it the pet, a child, a cripple at the street or women in general).
    As for Pele Kristiansen – his feelings are clear to me: After some exercise in using a weapon the got his chance and acted by killing the ice bear.
    Next day he had a hangover because of the alcohol AND, with the clarity that comes in flashes when the substance at the endorphin receptor wears off (cannabis and Kavakava work differently in my experience), he realized that was it. His future did not hold more ice bears, they become seldom nowadays, and there was some bad feeling about killing – did the Inuit before christianization not have rituals? Being raised christian did not help him, and he was not an intellectual to fight off the religious worldview. And for the rest of his life he would miss this emotional height and a chance to act in a tense situation.
    So he concluded that his life was over.
    If the ethnography is true that the old and diseased of his people did end their lives on their own, this is also a critical piece of information he lacked or at least acceptance of selfdetermination – among members of right-to-die-societies we often make the experience while careful planning our own ends we develop the criteria in which situations this is the right thing to do.
    Acceptance of suicide in his society would enable each of these youngsters to get the idea, that a hangover and other BAD BAD feelings are not the situation where ending one´s life is a solution.
    All the boys in the article were much too young, (what do girls and women and LGBTQ on Greenland?) for the living talking is only the first step. Next would be a worlview that enables all the life´s decisions under an umbrella of selfdetermination. But if small societies are stopped there by religious legalization and by having no way for a reasonable economy just like the mainstream is ……I did not find anything beyond this point.