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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : features : health and wellness August 27, 2015

9/3/2008 11:06:00 AM
Diné task forces leading the way to prevent suicide
Submitted by Dennis Bowen Sr.
Special to the Observer

Suicide is one of the most underestimated community health problems in the United States. Recent years in Tuba City have seen 18 suicides and over 200 people hospitalized with injuries from attempted suicides. The highest number of suicides in Tuba City have all been in the 10-30 year age group. The age group in Tuba City that has had the highest number of non-fatal suicide injuries is the 10-21 year age group.

Suicide is the third leading reason for emergency visits to the Tuba City Regional Health Care Center (TCRHCC). In Tuba City, suicide is the second leading cause of deaths. March is the leading month for hospitalization of individuals with attempted suicide injuries. April is the leading month for suicides. The majority of suicide cases (male and female) were alcohol-related deaths.

Across the Diné Nation, there are numerous local suicide prevention task forces organizing to renew life-assisting skills for reservation communities. This cultural protective factor or valuing life has been worn down over the past two centuries. Today, proactive local task force work is rebuilding this cultural and community strength. Native suicide rates vary from two and a half times the national average to 10 times the national average across all Indigenous territories. Native youth suicide epidemics have been occurring in various parts of the U.S. and Canada.

On Tuesday, Sept. 9, the Tuba City Suicide Prevention Task Force will gather along with community service providers from community- and school-based programs for a Valuing Life Community Breakfast. This will take place at the Hogan Restaurant at 9 a.m. There will be speakers who will share information on the scope and extent of suicide in Tuba City and the local communities. Other topics will highlight current prevention, intervention and postvention services available.

On Sept. 12-13, the Fourth Annual MBRACE Life 2008 Summit to educate and mobilize communities to stop Native suicide will take place in Flagstaff. The conference will be at the High Country Conference Center at NAU with the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (NARBHA) serving as the primary sponsoring agency. Last year's summit took place at Hondah on the White Mountain Apache Nation. This year's conference theme is "Protecting Creation's Dream." The conference contact number at NARBHA is (928) 774-5665. Limited scholarships and two night's lodging are available for families, youth and elders.

On Sept. 18, there will be an evening community suicide prevention walk at the old Tuba City airport starting at 6:30 p.m. The Tuba City Suicide Prevention Task Force invites families and individual of all ages to participate in the 1.5 mile walk. There will be water, incentives, a health fair and suicide awareness rally. The next task force meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Tuba City Boarding School Conference Room.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, the Fourth Generation's Journey Toward Sacred Life Suicide Prevention Walk will meet at the Chinle Hospital in Chinle. Walkers will arrive in Chinle with starting points in communities from all four directions across the Navajo Nation. From Tuba City, a team of walkers will be traveling by foot and vehicle to Chinle. The Tuba City Task Force contact number is (928) 283-2831. The contact number for the Kayenta Task Force is (928) 697-4186. The Shiprock Task Force contact number is (505) 368-6493.

Many Indigenous cultures have maintained that there is a cultural taboo regarding discussions of suicide. The various cultural attitudes about suicide are important for our people to address. Today, we witness the tragic risk factors of silence, misperceptions and secrecy as the deadly connections to suicide among Indigenous people. Healthy discussion, personal and community awareness and openness are key protective factors to stop suicide among Native families and communities.

The Tuba City Suicide Prevention Task Force invites all compassionate family and community members to the next meeting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 3 at the Boarding School conference room. Call (928) 283-2661 or 283-2501 in Tuba City for immediate help for a suicide situation.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Article comment by: No name provided

Hi, Suicide is a big problem in today's world. Young generation is not capable of facing the ups and downs in their life. I wish that everyone should understand that the life is precious and life must go on. Rick

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