Recognizing suicide warning signs

High suicide rates continue to plaque tribal communities across the country. We are seeing Native Americans commit suicide at higher rates than other Americans. It is the eighth leading cause of death among Native Americans across all ages. And even more concerning is that according a 2015 Centers of Disease Control study suicide is the second leading cause of death in Native Americans aged 10-34.

In honor of September being National Suicide Prevention Month we are sharing warning signs, risk factors, and where to get help.

Warning signs from the Indian Health Service include the following:

  • Unusual preoccupation with talking about death
  • Gathering tools and or information that could be used to harm oneself
  • Making efforts to but affairs in order
  • Contacting friends to say goodbye
  • Giving away favorite possessions
  • Loss of interest in favorite things
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Acting out with dangerous behavior
  • Seeming happy or calm after period of sadness or depression

Recognizing warning signs should be taken seriously. If you know someone who may be in danger don’t hesitate to seek help. It’s always best to err on the side of caution, Mary Young Southern Ute Health Clinic Behavioral Health manager said.

Indian Health Service has also released risk factors specifically found among Native American populations that include the following:

  • A history of interpersonal violence/abuse
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of stigma related to mental health
  • Unemployment
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Economic instability
  • Perceived discrimination
  • Isolation on reservations; feeling cut off from other people
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Historical trauma and unresolved grief

Know the warning signs and get help

  • Southern Ute Behavioral Health Department 970-563-4581
    • Colorado Crisis Services 1-844-493-TALK (8255)
    • Axis Health System
      • Dolores, Montezuma counties 970-565-7946 (business hours) 970-247-5245 (after hours)
      • Archuleta, La Plata & San Juan counties 970-247-5245 (all hours)
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-2855
    • New Mexico Crisis 1-855-662-7474
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