Development of suicide prevention resource tool for American Indian/Alaska Native communities

Mental Health

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, in partnership with Casey Family Programs, is developing a comprehensive resource tool for stakeholders working on suicide prevention in American Indian/Alaska Native communities and/or with American Indian/Alaska Native peoples. The resource tool will be developed through extensive formative work including roundtables with tribal leaders, Native youth, grassroots leaders, traditional healers, Native military service members and Veterans, two-spirit youth/leaders, and elders from across Indian Country. A community advisory board composed of various American Indian/Alaska Native stakeholders and representatives from federal and tribal organizations who are knowledgeable about suicide prevention will provide guidance throughout the development process. To ensure all tribal nations have a voice and to capture diverse perspectives about suicide, we aim to engage American Indians/Alaska Natives from all geographic regions in this work.

Creating the Resource Tool: We will conduct formative work with various stakeholders and community members through roundtables. This will include at least 8 roundtables (similar to Talking Circles) conducted throughout the U.S. with 6-8 elected tribal leaders, Native youth, grassroots leaders, traditional healers, Native military service members and Veterans, two-spirit youth/leaders, and elders from across Indian Country. The purpose of these roundtables is to gather information about unique factors, strengths, and programming related to suicide prevention in Native communities. In addition, stakeholders will provide guidance about what information to include in the tool, how to provide this information, and the best way to disseminate the information.

Community Advisory Board: We will also convene a community advisory board that will provide input in the development of the tool. We will invite 8-10 tribal stakeholders (including tribal leaders, Native youth, traditional healers) in addition to representatives from federal agencies or tribal health boards with suicide prevention knowledge/experience. The Board will meet 2-3 times over a 6-8 month period to advise on and review the tool. Information included in the tool will be based primarily on the roundtable findings, but we expect it will include the following:

  1. Updated report on American Indian/Alaska Native suicide mortality rates and related trends/patterns;
  2. Knowledge about unique factors and strengths related to suicide in Native communities;
  3. Information about suicide prevention programs implemented in Indian Country, including community-driven best practices;
  4. Other suicide prevention information recommended by stakeholders through roundtables and community advisory board meetings.

This project is funded by Casey Family Programs.
For more information, please contact:
Victoria M. O’Keefe, PhD (Cherokee/Seminole Nations of Oklahoma)
Email:; Phone: 410-955-9849

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