Transforming Tribal Communities:
Indigenous Perspectives on Suicide Prevention
Culturally relevant suicide prevention strategies that are endorsed by community members can lead to long-lasting change. The following six-to-eight-minute webinar clips, adapted from SPRC’s Tribal Community of Learning Series, feature expert advice on addressing the root causes of mental health issues and suicide in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities by drawing on community strengths.
Click here for more information Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) 2019
- Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide (PC CARES) – This culturally adapted community health intervention designed, supported, and implemented by remote communities of Northwest Alaska includes many of the strategies mentioned in the webinar clips.
Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide (PC CARES) is a community health intervention designed, supported, and implemented by the remote communities of Northwest Alaska. PC CARES builds communities of practice among local and regional service providers, community members, friends, and families to spark multilevel and sustained efforts for suicide prevention. In this model, monthly learning circles supported by local facilitators foster personal and collective learning about suicide prevention in order to spur practical action on multiple levels to prevent suicide and promote health.
PC CARES was co-created through strong and trusting partnerships with researchers and communities and local leadership. The process led to nine learning circles, which we hosted by trained local facilitators in 12 remote Alaskan villages over the course for 3 years. Drawing on decades of suicide prevention research in Arctic Indigenous communities, the nine learning circles give research evidence a community platform in order for Alaskans to decide what’s next in their local efforts to end suicide.
By the end of the pilot study, the results were very promising. From 2015-17, local facilitators hosted 64 PC CARES learning circles in their villages, with 376 people attending. In surveys, PC CARES participants said they:
• learned useful information and skills for prevention,
• developed new ways of working with others in their community for wellness, and
• took actions for prevention and health in their villages.
These results show how PC CARES can increase community wellness, which can save lives.
The program was designed with and for communities in rural, Inupiaq Northwestern Alaska, then adapted to improve on the pilot and expand to a new region of Northwest Alaska. The total number of learning circles was reduced from 9 to 5, keeping what was most important, relevant, and potentially effective.
Now, PC CARES hosts school (virtually) and community learning circles that offer new ideas for suicide prevention and wellness, so people can have thoughtful conversations about that works for their communities and lives and how they can take action in meaningful ways within their social and geographic context. PC CARES at Home supplements and reminds people of their learning through care packages and social media engagement.
It takes a village—and all organizations within in it—to prevent suicide.
Therefore, PC CARES invites community leaders, service providers, and others to come together for learning circles each month.
Scientific research can strengthen village efforts.
Each learning circle starts by sharing ‘bite-size’ bits of information or ‘what we know’ about suicide prevention and how to promote wellness.
Community members are best able make sense of and use ‘what we know’ to prevent suicide and promote wellness in their own communities.
By sparking regular community conversations, PC CARES builds partnerships among community members and providers in order to effectively prevent suicide and promote wellness.EVIDENCE-BASED, COMMUNITY-LED
Combining health education and community mobilization, PC CARES is built on a transactional-ecological framework that emphasizes community and cultural protective factors in Alaska Native communities, and the multiple, interacting conditions of suicide. PC CARES extends typical suicide prevention initiatives beyond the traditional gatekeeper model and the bounds of formal clinical encounter to empower individuals, families, and communities to drive change at the local level.