Omaha Tribe of Nebraska

Project HOPE
Garrett Lee Smith Tribal

Project HOPE, a community-based initiative will focus upon the prevention of suicides among the Omaha youth, focusing on a initial target of 200, 10-24 year olds. Suicide is a serious public health concern that results in approximately 4,400 lost lives each year as the second leading cause of death among American Indian adolescents and young adults. The project will utilize evidence-based models and curriculum in prevention and intervention strategies.

Suicide on the Omaha Reservation is a reality that was, not many years ago, rarely even talked about within the community. Ideology concerning suicide is difficult to target. Suicide attempts are often seen as severe bouts of depression or substance abuse related issues.? The current tribal system of care is overburdened and overwhelmed.? And an alarming number of youth are displaying disruptive behaviors and attitudes that are being left untreated.

The primary purpose of Project HOPE is to serve as a catalyst for preventing suicides among youth. This long-term initiative will be achieved by promoting foundational prevention efforts to prevent youth deaths due to suicide across the entire Four Hills of Life, reduce the after-effects associated with suicidal behaviors and traumatic impact of suicide on family and safe environment to enhance resiliency, resourcefulness, respect, and interconnectedness for individuals, families, and the community.

A comprehensive approach will be utilized as no single organization can successfully stop suicides. Partnerships will play key roles and prevention efforts will be carefully coordinated between local prevention programs, the two reservation schools, the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and its entities within which include:? the Carl T. Curtis Health Education Center, Omaha Nation Law Enforcement, Omaha Tribal Court, and Omaha Nation Child Protective Services. Community-based prevention efforts will include community education and awareness trainings, forums, and cultural gatherings where suicide ideation criteria will be identified, brief interventions and clinical applications can be decided upon and planned, and public awareness strategies can be developed. Speakers and community trainers will be utilized to facilitate planning meetings and educate professionals, project partners, and community members on providing interventions. A media component will be used to carry out the message that Life is Sacred and displayed where the community can receive immediate and confidential assistance. The evidence-based Columbia University teen Screen will be utilized to screen, identify, and refer at-risk youth to appropriate providers. The American Indian Life Skills Development Curriculum (AILSDC), an evidence-based, skills-trainings approach, will be offered at both schools for youth in grades 9-12. And, an equine therapy program, EAGALA, which is dedicated to improving the mental health of individuals, families, and groups, will be offered.