‘Silent Epidemic’ impacts Native Americans more than general US population
Almost one in four Native American youths has attempted suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A new initiative is in the works to combat those grim statistics through positive social networking.
Brandon Trejo, 17, who lives on a reservation in eastern Washington state, knows a face behind that statistic. “One of my friends, he tried overdosing on a bunch of pills,” Trejo says. “It didn’t work. He ended up going to the hospital and getting his stomach pumped.” Trejo was shocked and still doesn’t understand his friend’s actions.
According to suicide prevention coordinator Colbie Caughlan, the staff wanted help crafting health promotion messages that would resonate with young people.
“Youth learn from youth,” says Caughlan. “That’s what has happened forever.”
Conference organizers arranged presentations about suicide warning signs and healthy, drug-free living. Then they set the young people loose with video camera, drawing paper, notebooks or a music producer.
Author: Tom Banse, Voice of America
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