One is the loss of his older brother, Terence, who died by suicide after being charged with impaired driving in 2002 at age 22. A suicide note read: ”Do well, Jor. Go all the way. Take care of the family. You’re the man, Ter.”
Twelve years later, the event still casts a long shadow on Tootoo.
“I just want people to understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said in an interview broadcast on CBC Nunavut, where the rate of suicide has reached crisis proportions.
“People hold a lot of negative energy in and are too shy to open up and talk about it,” Tootoo says. “I don’t want those hardships to end in a negative way with taking a life, and unfortunately we’ve experienced that with my brother Terence.”
“You’ve got to be able to let things go. When you’re able to talk about it, it releases negativity and you become more comfortable in your own skin.”