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#IWillLive: Suicide Prevention in Indian Country

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“Suicide rates for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) are four times higher than the national average. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for AI/AN youth between the ages of 15 to 24.1 This fact sheet, developed for tribal audiences and the agencies that work with them, reviews suicide prevention in Indian Country and how the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention can apply to tribal communities.”

Click here to download the fact sheet: SAMHSA Publication ID: SMA16-4995 – Dec 2016

The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: What Works in Indian Country

1. Supportive environments for healthy and empowered individuals, families, and communities

• Implement ongoing and collaborative efforts
• Focus on the community’s level of awareness of the issue and readiness for change
• Support the local vision and solutions that come from the community
• Strengthen cultural beliefs and practices
• Promote a sense of belonging and increase protective factors, including strengthening cultural identities, the sense of family and community connectedness, and communication skills
• Build supportive school environments to further increase protective factors
• implementing a life skills curriculum that includes problem-solving and positive thinking
• instituting strong anti-bullying policies and practices
• implementing dating violence prevention programs

2. Enhanced clinical and community preventive services

• Implement a trauma-informed care approach to understand and acknowledge the impact and effects of historical trauma and poverty
• Identify and draw upon protective and cultural resilience factors to help restore resilience
• Routinely train substance and clinical service providers in suicide prevention
• Train community prevention and clinical staff in evidence-based interventions
• Assure continuity of care during high-risk transition times

3. Available, timely treatment and support services

• Address shame, negative attitudes, taboo, and silence about mental and substance use disorders and suicide to allow and encourage culturally appropriate conversations
• Enhance the community’s capacity through collaborative efforts and grant writing or administration training
• Provide culturally informed approaches in appropriate cultural settings
• Focus services on groups at increased risk of suicide, including AI/AN youth, suicide survivors, individuals who have attempted suicide, Twospirited populations, members of the armed forces, and veterans
• Address multi-jurisdictional issues through collaboration and long-range planning
• Provide and monitor post-intervention and aftercare

4. Improved suicide prevention data collection, research, and evaluation

• Build local evaluation capacity and develop infrastructures to gather effective data, as needed
• Consider Indigenous practices for improving knowledge, storytelling, and other indigenous ways of knowing
• Address data collection, research, and evaluation on a tribal level to best navigate issues of sovereignty, confidentiality, and culturally appropriate evaluation methods