ARIZONA: Community Prevention Plan Slashes Apache Tribe’s Suicide Rate

December 02, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  Arizona

Psych Central

According to new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the White Mountain Apache Tribe has experienced a significant reduction in suicide deaths following the implementation of a comprehensive, community-based suicide prevention program. In response to disproportionate rates of suicide among its young people, the tribe passed legislation to develop a surveillance system to track suicide-related data, which were used to inform prevention programming and evaluation. Program efforts included training to identify at-risk youth, school-based programs, emergency department screening and interventions, and a suicide awareness campaign. Following implementation, overall suicide death rates dropped by nearly 40 percent, including a 60 percent decrease among 25- to 34-year-olds and a 37 percent decrease among 20- to 24-year-olds. “This study shows how a courageous community, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, used legislation and community mental health workers to successfully address suicide as a public health crisis,” said lead author Mary Cwik, a clinical psychologist and researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. “It is imperative to sustain locally driven efforts, especially after seeing these promising results. The surveillance system and linked prevention programs have shown they can save many young lives.”

Spark Extra! Read the study abstract.