Deaths by suicide among the White Mountain Apache in Arizona dropped by nearly 40 percent between 2006 and 2012 compared to the previous six-year period, new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the tribe finds.
The substantial reduction came after tribal leaders responded to the high number of suicides occurring in their community by passing legislation to develop a surveillance system and intensive prevention program, which tracks and triages those with suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts.
The findings are published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health. These results bolster the results of a handful of studies to show that suicide is preventable with comprehensive, community-based efforts, and one of the only to show reduction in both attempts and deaths.
The work of the tribe also included training for adults to identify at-risk youth; two school-based programs — one enlisting elders to promote cultural engagement, and the other promoting coping and problem-solving skills — screening and interventions in the tribe’s emergency rooms to connect those who attempt suicide or experience a binge drinking or drugging episode with counseling; and a community-based media campaign to promote prevention education.