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Youth and Suicide Prevention

Young woman
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, and the Native American/Alaska Native (AI/AN) population has the highest rate of death by suicide of all cultural groups. In addition to risk factors found in the U.S. at large (such as history of previous attempts, or attempts or completions in one's family; exposure to suicidal behavior in others; history of mental illness or depression; substance abuse; loss of relationships; life stresses), AI/AN youth have additional factors that may increase risk. AI/AN youth may feel cut off from other people, or isolated on reservations; perceive discrimination; or be burdened by historical trauma shared by earlier generations related to experiences of colonialism, wars, dislocation from land, and separation from family by Indian boarding schools.

The Indian Health Service (IHS) is working to promote protective factors and reduce risk factors on a community, family, and individual level, to decrease youth suicide-related thoughts, attempts, and deaths. To achieve this goal, the IHS is engaging Tribal leaders in the development and implementation of a community-wide education campaign rooted in Native traditions; promoting the early identification of youth at risk for self-harm; engaging elders to increase connections between youth and their traditions and heritage, and to restore intergenerational relationships; and promoting the sacredness of life.

The Jason Foundation (JFI)Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is dedicated to the prevention of suicide through educational and awareness programs to equip youth, educators, and parents with tools and resources to identify and assist at-risk youth.

KognitoExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is a proprietary technology that uses role playing to enable the creation and delivery of cost effective experiences, where learners can experiment, learn, and practice skills to change health behaviors.

Gathering of Native Americans (GONA)Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is a Native-specific community prevention and strategic planning curriculum developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in partnership with American Indian/Alaska Native people. The GONA has been used to move communities toward healing, and to address issues related to planning and prevention.

The JED Foundation (JED)Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to protecting emotional health and preventing suicide among teens and young adults. JED partners with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention programs.

Center for Native American Youth

The Center for Native American YouthExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is committed to improving the health, safety, and well-being of Native American youth, and in particular, to preventing youth suicide. Founded by former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, the center aspires to develop meaningful partnerships with Tribal governments and organizations. The Center holds youth summits and roundtables throughout Indian Country to bring together youth, Tribal leaders, key partners, and experts to discuss the challenges young people face, and best practices on how to respond to those challenges.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The American Foundation for Suicide PreventionExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  sponsors research projects, education, and advocacy. Supported by members and private donors, the Foundation has 50 chapters around the country.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

The SPRCExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  provides prevention support, training, and resources to assist states, organizations, and coalitions in developing suicide prevention programs, interventions, and policies.

National Council for Suicide Prevention

The National Council for Suicide PreventionExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is a coalition of nine national organizations working to prevent suicide. Its mission is to advance suicide prevention through leadership, advocacy, and a collective voice.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

The AFSPExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is the leading national organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and to those impacted by suicide.

Suicide Prevention Resource Guide 2012

The Children's Safety Network resource guide, Suicide Prevention Resource Guide 2012 [PDF - 2.5 MB]Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving , provides an in-depth overview of resources available for youth and young adults.

To Live to See the Great Day That Dawns:
Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults

To Live to See the Great Day That Dawns[PDF - 10.3 MB]Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is a 170-page guide from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services AdministrationExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  that lays the groundwork for comprehensive suicide prevention planning. The guide explores some of the cultural issues around prevention and describes respectful approaches. It provides practical tools and resources that a community can use for assessment, program selection, coalition building, and implementation of a comprehensive plan. The guide also covers actions a community can take in response to a suicide to help the community heal and prevent suicide contagion.

Preventing Suicide: A Tool Kit for High Schools

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  has a tool kitExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  to assist high schools and school districts in designing and implementing strategies to prevent suicide and promote behavioral health. The tool kit will help schools and their partners: assess their ability to prevent suicide and respond to suicides; learn strategies to help students at risk for suicide; understand how to respond to a suicide; respond to the needs and cultures of the students; and integrate suicide prevention into other school activities, such as preventing the abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

After a Suicide: A Tool Kit for Schools

After a Suicide: A Tool Kit for SchoolsExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  is an expertly researched, practical guide for high school administrators, teachers, and others who need to respond in real time to the crisis caused by a student’s death. Produced by the American Foundation for Suicide PreventionExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  and the Suicide Prevention Resource CenterExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving , this 50-page document advises on how to help students cope, prevent suicide contagion, and monitor social media. It also advises on how to work with the community, properly memorialize, and speak to the news media. Helpful templates, checklists, and resources are included.


Distinguished speakers and program leaders have presented their ideas about youth suicide prevention at IHS-sponsored conferences. Following are their presentations and tool kits for implementing programs on youth suicide prevention.