News / USA

    Tribal Teens Fight Suicide Through Positive Social Networking

    'Silent Epidemic' impacts Native Americans more than general US population

    Tribal youth from across the Northwest work on comic book panels on another track of the recent health promotion conference.
    Tribal youth from across the Northwest work on comic book panels on another track of the recent health promotion conference.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Tom Banse

    Almost one in four Native American youths has attempted suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    A new initiative is in the works to combat those grim statistics through positive social networking.

    Brandon Trejo, 17, who lives on a reservation in eastern Washington state, knows a face behind that statistic.

    "One of my friends, he tried overdosing on a bunch of pills," Trejo says. "It didn't work. He ended up going to the hospital and getting his stomach pumped."

    Trejo was shocked and still doesn't understand his friend's actions.

    Oregon tribal member Sarah Hull has felt the same shock, not just once, but multiple times. The 16-year-old goes to a school off the reservation.

    "I know from personal experience living in a Native American community and being around people, depression is really common," she says, "because for a lot of people it's hard to find your way to your culture or find your way to a certain passion when you don't who you are and you're confused."

    Audio engineer Brad Kaminski records a song by Sarah Hull.
    Audio engineer Brad Kaminski records a song by Sarah Hull.

    Hull has found her way to a passion - music. She records in a makeshift recording studio set up at a tribal health workshop.Hull lays awake at night trying to find the right words for a song on the unusual theme of suicide prevention.

    Fighting back

    Her recording session is part of an anti-suicide/healthy living workshop organized by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. The regional agency invited 60 students from different tribes to come to Portland for a week.

    According to suicide prevention coordinator Colbie Caughlan, the staff wanted help crafting health promotion messages that would resonate with young people.

    "Youth learn from youth," says Caughlan. "That's what has happened forever."

    Conference organizers arranged presentations about suicide warning signs and healthy, drug-free living. Then they set the young people loose with video camera, drawing paper, notebooks or a music producer.

    Caughlan hopes the experience will unleash a wave of uplifting social networking including teen-generated web videos, music and even a comic book.

    "If they say, 'Oh, then I went to a leadership conference,’ or ‘I did a suicide prevention training and it taught me something so amazing that I actually helped save my best friend's life,' those are the things people are going to hold with them and tell their friends."

    This initiative was inspired by a successful web-based suicide prevention strategy in Australia.

    Breaking the silence

    Todd Denny, one of the music mentors in Portland, has led musical workshops to combat social ills on Northwest reservations for a decade. He believes technology could help break the stigma around a difficult, sensitive topic.

    "One of the big challenges with suicide in all communities, not just tribal communities, is the silence and the secrecy," says Denny. "So a program like this allows people to break through those barriers of silence and secrecy, to express themselves, to tell their stories."

    Over the course of a week, some of the teens did that through traditional Native American music. Others explored the suicide prevention theme through more contemporary genres such as rap and hip hop.

    Jordan Hill, 19, who sings and plays guitar, chooses his lyrics carefully. "Every song that I've written is a message to somebody, which is why when I finally put out the album that I'm working on, I want to name it 'Memoir' because it's a message to everybody."

    Hill's message is slated to become part of a comprehensive online health resource created for native youth by their peers. The multimedia campaign, called "WeAreNative," launches later this year.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora