Suicide Survivor Arnold Thomas to Kick Off Red Lake Youth Conference


The "I Want to Live" suicide prevention presentation takes place Monday at 7 p.m.

On Monday, March 26, the evening before the Sixth Annual Red Lake Youth Leadership Conference, Mr. Arnold Thomas (Shoshone-Paiute) will share a powerful message about suicide prevention and intervention. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Red Lake Humanities Center in Red Lake, Minnesota and is open to the public.

The Red Lake Youth Council requested Thomas' presence in response to the high number of suicide incidents on the reservation over the years. Thomas is a suicide survivor. A suicide attempt at age 18 left him blind and disfigured.

From Thomas' biography: "One warm summer night soon after I turned 18, I stuck a hunting rifle under my chin and pulled the trigger. The gun shot wound severely damaged my face and left me completely blind. I was unable to speak for several years. With the steadfast support of my hometown community, my family and my friends along with my own renewed will to live, I survived this challenging period of my life and slowly began to put the shattered pieces back together."

Thomas has consulted nationally and internationally with communities for the past 15 years. The dynamic motivational speaker has been involved in developing curriculum for substance abuse and suicide prevention and intervention programs on the local and national levels. He has served as a member of the National Institute of Health’s C-SAT (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment) work group, and he has assisted in creating cultural sensitive materials for the Indian Health services’ Emergency Medical Services for Children in Washington D.C. Thomas also served as a spiritual advisor for Native American inmates incarcerated in the Utah State Correctional system.

Arnold recently served as the project coordinator for the Circle of Hope through Volunteers of America where he worked with homeless Native Americans. Additionally, he is the spiritual advisor for inpatient substance abusers at the George E. Whalen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

On Tuesday, the first day of the youth conference, Thomas will present the keynote address at 9:30 a.m., and will offer a workshop during the first session of the conference.

The Sixth Annual Red Lake Youth Leadership Conference will be held Tuesday through Thursday March 27-29, 2012 at Red Lake High School in Red Lake Minnesota. The conference theme this year is "Miikanaakeyang Giniigaanayi'iiminaan" (Making a Path for Our Future).