July 19, 2011

Anti-suicide arts workshop

Tribal youth using digital media to battle silent epidemic:  suicide

By Tom BanseTribal member Sarah Hull has felt the same shock, not just once, but multiple times. The 16-year-old goes to school off-reservation in suburban Gresham, Oregon.

"I know from personal experience living in a Native American community and being around people, depression is really common because for a lot of people it's hard to find your way to your culture or find your way to a certain passion when you don't who you are and you're confused," Hull says.

Sarah's mother says there've been times she could feel "danger in the air." The family has found an antidote in music.

Hull's music is part of an anti-suicide, healthy living workshop put on by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. The regional agency invited 60 students from different tribes throughout the Northwest to come to Portland for a week ... supported by a federal grant.

Suicide prevention coordinator Colbie Caughlan says the staff wanted help crafting health promotion messages that resonate with young people.

"Youth learn from youth," Caughlan says. "That's what has happened forever."

Conference organizers arranged presentations about suicide warning signs and healthy, drug free living. Then they set the young people loose with video camera, drawing paper, notebooks or a music producer.

Eventually, the hope is to move the resulting material online and unleash a wave of positive social networking media.
Comment:  For more on Native suicide prevention, see Oprah Network Funds Suicide Prevention and Native Band Plays to Prevent Suicide.

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