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From Staff Reports

WASHINGTON—As part of President Obama’s Generation Indigenous and Tiwahe initiatives, Assistant Secretary Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn said Sept. 10 will henceforth be known as "Hope for Life Day" to raise awareness in Indian Country about suicide prevention during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Suicide strikes Native youth especially hard. The suicide rate for ages 15 to 34 is more than two times higher than the national average.

“Suicide wounds every person, family and community it touches,” Washburn said. “Native communities suffer from a suicide rate that is more than twice the national average. There is no greater tragedy in Indian Country. Our President has heard about the effects of suicide on Native communities, and has directed his Administration to work harder to address it. There are no easy cures and it will require a broad commitment to address it. Hope for Life Day will bring greater awareness of this issue in Indian Country, and provide information about suicide prevention to help save lives.”

Last month, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s (NAASP) American Indian and Alaska Native Task Force announced the first National American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Suicide Prevention Hope for Life Day.

Going forward, the Hope for Life Day will be held annually on Sept. 10 in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day.

President Obama’s Generation Indigenous initiative focuses on removing barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed, using a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach to help improve the lives and opportunities for Native youth. The Tiwahe Initiative, launched in Fiscal Year 2015, addresses family welfare and poverty issues, invests in education, economic development, sustainable stewardship of natural resources, and advances a strategy to reduce incarceration in Indian Country.

The Hope for Life Day is part of the Action Alliance’s AI/AN Task Force’s efforts to change the conversation about suicide and promote hope, life, cultural resiliency, and community transformation. It is an effort specifically designed for tribal communities to raise awareness about suicide and seek ways to address it, particularly among the teens and adults who are at a high level of risk for taking their own lives.

As part of the effort, youth in Parmelee and surrounding area staged a walk through the community on Sept. 10, inviting others to join, to show solidarity with President Obama in the prevention of suicide. Some parents expressed pride in their children for participating in the planned event.

"Suicide prevention starts early and begins with the little things."

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