Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - The Action Summit for Suicide Prevention, underway in Scottsdale, Arizona has drawn some 1,300 people who are interested in helping to curb the high rates of suicide, a serious problem in Indian Country.
The summit is sponsored in part by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, the Indian Health Services and the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration.
“The federal government must be a better partner in addressing this critical issue that afflicts Indian Country,”
said Jodi Gillette (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, in opening remarks to summit attendees. "This week's summit is an important step toward positive engagement and collaboration with other government agencies and tribes as we work together to build healthier, stronger communities."
One of the administration's top priorities has been to ensure that Indian Affairs is an active partner in preventing and responding to suicide emergencies. During President Obama's first tribal listening conference in November 2009, a number of tribal leaders asked that the federal government engage more fully on the issue of suicide prevention, especially among youth. Several tribes suggested that a summit would be an important step.
The Action Summit in Scottsdale, is the fulfillment of that request. The Second Annual Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative Conference has been incorporated into the Action Summit for Suicide Prevention programs and includes suicide and methamphetamine prevention learning labs from the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative.
The Action Summit is intended to bring together mental health professionals with tribal leaders, teachers, law enforcement and other community leaders to provide information and training for those who work most closely with those at risk in Native communities.
In preparation for the Action Summit, Indian Affairs has worked closely with the IHS Office of Behavioral Health and with Substance and Mental Health Services Administration. In order to make the Summit most responsive to the interests and needs of the tribes, Indian Affairs held a series of 10 Listening Sessions throughout Indian Country from November 2010 through January 2011.
"It is great to attend a conference with so many people on the frontlines of suicide prevention and youth development in Indian Country - health providers, teachers, community leaders," commented Erin Bailey, director of the Aspen Institute's Center for Native American Youth. "It makes for insightful and productive conversation."
posted August 4, 2011 6:30 am edt
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