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Udall Announces $1.4 Million for Indian Youth Suicide Prevention in the Pueblo of San Felipe

July 21, 2011
  • WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) today announced that the Pueblo of San Felipe will receive $1.4 million over five years to expand services for adolescents at-risk for suicide.

    Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Native Americans between the ages of 15 - 34, with a suicide rate more than three times higher than the national average for this age group. In addition, Native Americans have a 70 percent higher rate of suicide than the overall population in the U.S.

    Said Udall, "There is nothing more devastating to a family and community than when a young person dies by their own hand. We have a moral obligation to provide youth of every background and ethnicity with the support they need to get through tough times and emphasize to them that their lives are valuable. This funding will go a long way in the San Felipe Pueblo to help fight the troubling epidemic of native youth suicides that we're seeing in New Mexico."

    The program, Kathishya Embraces Youth, Wellness, and Hope (KEYWAH), implements specific suicide prevention programs to help at-risk adolescents and their families. With this funding the program will increase training of tribal behavioral health providers, school and community staff; increase collaboration among school and community agencies and create the KEYWAH Taskforce to serve as San Felipe's tribal suicide prevention coalition.

    The goal is to actively engage the community to help prevent suicide through a public health model, that includes outreach and social marketing, multi-disciplinary coordination, storytelling by youth, and youth-suicide leadership development and peer counseling.

    Udall is a long-time supporter of measures to prevent youth suicide. As both a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Udall has sponsored the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2011, named for his 21-year-old relative and son of former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith. The legislation helps states, tribes and higher education institutions develop and put in place methods and strategies to reduce youth suicide.

    Udall was also a champion for inclusion of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in the larger health care overhaul passed in 2010. Among other things, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act helps to combat the growing epidemic of teen suicide in Indian Country. It included a Udall amendment - the 7th Generation Promise: Indian Youth Suicide Prevention Act, which encouraged the development of life skills for Native youth.


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