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Preventing Native Youth Suicide: #WeNeedYouHere Campaign Spreads Love and Help

A new internet campaign and website, We R Native, is a youth initiative to combat suicide among young people in Indian country.

She’s only 15 years old, yet Kateri Daw, Navajo (Diné) has found her passion. She focuses on suicide prevention year-round by helping youth in her New Mexico community and other communities succeed by finding hope where hope doesn’t seem to exist.

Kateri is one of 50 We R Native (WRN) Youth Ambassadors reaching out to young Natives by promoting World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, and Suicide Prevention Week from September 7–12 with the message: #WeNeedYouHere.

"I feel like people who are suicidal and suffering have been ignored for too long, and it’s time to get them the love and help that they need,” Kateri told We R Native.

If you need help, or to give help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text START to 741741 to chat via text. To learn more about the signs of suicide and how to help a friend in need, visit the We R Native website.

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Chairman Brian Cladoosby of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tim Tall Chief of the Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board, Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, and Omaha and Winnebago Tribes are honored with National Impact awards at the NIHB Annual Awards.

We R Native is a multimedia health resource for Native teens and young adults run by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. The 50 Native teens and young adults from across the nation began participating as 2015-2016 WRN Youth Ambassadors over the summer, “helping to spread positive vibes and create positive change in their local communities,” WRN said in a press release.

Spreading the message that suicide can be prevented is their first project. To increase the visibility of their campaign they created the hashtag #WeNeedYouHere, and individually they are speaking out.

Suicide has personally affected Ambassador Hamilton Seymour (Nooksack). He shares how his involvement in war canoeing helped him cope with his father’s death in a YouTube video featuring Native youth who are survivors of suicide or suicide attempts.

Ambassador Tenai Tortice (White Mountain Apache) feels personally invested in spreading this message.

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“When I was diagnosed with depression it made me feel like I was low ... lower than anybody,” he told WRN. “I got closer to my culture, and knowing that I’m a product of a miracle ... I’m not supposed to be here ... but I am. That’s what empowers me.”

Ambassador SuSun Fisher (Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians), concurs.

“This challenge really hits home for a lot of us," she said. "Suicide is a very tough subject, and it brings me comfort that we are addressing this issue and letting our people know that we care.”

Photo: Courtesy We R Native

Suicide prevention: Signs to help the despairing hang in there.

United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) is promoting a similar campaign using the hashtag #IwillLive. Take 5 To Save Lives offers the following tips:

Step 1: Learn the signs of impending suicide.

Step 2: Join the movement. Use your status updates and tweets to help save lives.

Step 3: Spread the word. Print this sign or create your own using #WeNeedYouHere and #IwillLive. Then tell 5 people about World Suicide Prevention Day!

Step 4: Support a friend. If your friend tells you he or she is feeling suicidal, take it seriously.

Step 5: Reach out: To get help or give help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text START to 741741 to chat via text.

Join the WRN Youth Ambassadors in supporting #NationalSuicidePreventionWeek by spreading the word that suicide can be prevented! Learn more about World Suicide Prevention Day at the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) website.