Navajo Nation Dept. of Behavioral Health Services

Project Ke'
Garrett Lee Smith Tribal

On behalf of the Navajo Nation, The Navajo Department of Behavioral Health (NNDBH), along with the National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP) and the Edventures Group on the Navajo Nation, seek to implement Project Ke. Project Ke is based on a three-tiered approach modeled after the Institute of Medicine (IOM) continuum which begins with the promotion of mental and behavioral health and wellness for universal populations, and continues through a full range of evidence-based suicide prevention and early intervention services for selective and indicated populations of youth and their families in our designated communities. Over the three-year course of the project, approximately 1650 from the Universal population will participate in small group public awareness activities/forums (tens of thousands more from the multi-media awareness campaign), 750 selective population members will participate in the TANAY schools-based project component and 165 members of the indicated population will receive at least one component of the Edventures program. All components are based on positive youth development approaches to wellness and are influenced by Native elders which stands in contrast to mainstream prevention approaches (Project Ke will focus on strengths rather than deficits).The overarching goal of our proposed Project Ke is to create prevention prepared communities in which to implement our tribal youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies grounded in public/private collaboration (e.g. schools, educational institutions, juvenile justice, foster care systems, substance abuse and mental health programs, and other child and youth supporting organizations). Ke is a Navajo word for relations/relationships and it conceptually defines the Navajo individual place in the world, community, family, and with self. Project Ke was developed after extensive community planning in response to 54 suicide attempts and deaths among individuals aged 13-45 between January 2010 and October 2010 (most of them occurred in our 60-square mile target geographic area of Thoreau New Mexico and its surround rural communities). The deaths of so many young people at their own hand reveals that the increasing threat of drugs and crime is leading many youth American Indians to feel they have limited prospects in society. American Indian youth in NM had the highest suicide rate of all racial and ethnic groups, with 43.6 suicides per 100,000 population in 2006 (most recent data). The Navajo Nation has declared a medical emergency in the Eastern Navajo Agency and provides a strong rationale for selecting youth aged 11-18 residing in Thoreau and the surrounding communities, including survivors of suicide attempts and of suicide loss, as our population of focus.Our project will coordinate additional streams of prevention funding/programs (such as substance abuse prevention, violence prevention, etc.) in our target communities. We will also leverage the funding and counseling resources that were brought to bear following the declaration of medical emergency in our area. Additionally, the Ohrstrom Family Foundation and other project partners have committed $116,200 in funding and in-kind contributions.