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Recommendations from an American Indian reservation community-based suicide prevention program

Allyson Kelley (Department of Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)
Dee BigFoot (College of Medicine/Peds, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA)
Clayton Small (Native Pride, Corrales, New Mexico, USA)
Tom Mexicancheyenne (Community Health Programs, Northern Cheyenne Board of Health, Lame Deer, Montana, USA)
Robbie Gondara (Community Health Programs, Northern Cheyenne Board of Health, Lame Deer, Montana, USA)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 16 March 2015




Effective community-based suicide prevention strategies require culturally relevant contextually driven approaches, validated by community members. Existing literature, funding agencies, and polices do not adequately address the differences in community vs non-community definitions and approaches to suicide prevention. These differences and the process must be articulated to fully understand the complexities of effective American Indian community-based suicide prevention strategies. This paper aims to discuss these issues.


This study uses a qualitative methodology to understand the process and meaning of an American Indian reservation's community-based approach to suicide prevention.


Seven recommendations emerge. These include: expand the understanding of suicide; plan activities and outreach early; uphold cultural values; build administrative and community capacity; prepare and respond to community needs and situations; anticipate challenges and develop solutions; and recognize the spiritual aspects of the endeavor.


This study provides new insight about the process in which American Indian communities define, develop and implement suicide prevention strategies that are culturally relevant and community driven. The process and recommendations may be useful for institutions, funding agencies, policy makers, and tribal leaders, and community-based prevention partners.



The authors acknowledge the support and involvement of community members, tribal leaders, and tribal program staff in the development and implementation of community-based suicide prevention strategies.


Kelley, A., BigFoot, D., Small, C., Mexicancheyenne, T. and Gondara, R. (2015), "Recommendations from an American Indian reservation community-based suicide prevention program", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 3-13.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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