Suicide is an epidemic in many tribal communities. While we have made much progress in many areas we have a ways to go on this issue. When a suicide does occur it often leads to an outbreak which can continue for awhile if left unabated. The good news is it is totally preventable. The research has indicated that if you intervene early more often than not the person will not attempt to try the suicide again.

Tribes need to be more proactive in their responses and not wait until it becomes a crisis. I am here working with a Tribe in Wisconsin this week with a team and it is part of a sustained effort to work with this Tribe for the next 10 months. They are working on a SAMSHA grant to address this issue and we are assisting them in this effort. Some of the action steps will involve conducting a Community Readiness Model assessemt, creating a vision for the community, conducting training to increase awareness and developing a suicide surveillance system.

As more and more Tribes make this a priority they will see the positive results from addressing this very serious issue. The good news is that once you have an active coalition in place and they are committed to doing whatever it takes to provide the comprehensive services that the youth need, suicide will no longer be an option.

Mitakuye Oyasin

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