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37th Annual National Suicide Prevention Week

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Sep. 6, 11 -

Suicide is a major public health problem that affects many Americans and their families every year. Sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), National Suicide Prevention Week, September 4-10, helps to increase awareness and rally support behind national and community efforts to prevent trauma and death associated with suicide.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24.The rates are even higher for American Indian/Alaska Native youth. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for American Indian youth ages 15 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009.

Suicide can devastate families and communities, but through prevention programs, lives can be saved. Since 2005, Kauffman and Associates, Inc. (KAI) has been working closely with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on a youth violence, bullying and suicide prevention program in Indian Country called Native Aspirations.

Native Aspirations utilizes a culture-based approach to prevention, working directly with communities to facilitate the creation of sustainable, community-wide efforts to prevent youth suicide.  Native Aspirations taps into the inherent strength and resilience of American Indian and Alaska Native people by reinforcing cultural values and connecting youth with community elders and each other.  The program focuses on strengthening protective factors, such as connectedness to family, improved emotional health, and mentoring.

Native Aspirations currently serves 57 communities and will expand to 65 communities by 2013.  These communities work together in a spirit of cooperation; sharing resources, applying knowledge, and building capacity together as one voice.  We know Native Aspirations works when we see youth reclaim their heritage and respect for tradition, resulting in a positive change within themselves and the community.

Become a part of the solution: learn about the risk factors and warning signs of youth suicidal behavior, visit the American Association of Suicidology’s fact sheet at http://www.suicidology.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=232&name=DLFE-335.pdf

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