Courtesy We R Native
From one young person to another: Messages of hope and love aim to prevent Native youth from taking their own life. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Preventing Native Youth Suicide: #WeNeedYouHere Campaign Spreads Love and Help

Danielle Hansen Mitchell

She’s only 15 years old, yet Kateri Daw, Navajo (Diné) has found her passion. She focuses on suicide prevention year-round by helping youth in her New Mexico community and other communities succeed by finding hope where hope doesn’t seem to exist.

Kateri is one of 50 We R Native (WRN) Youth Ambassadors reaching out to young Natives by promoting World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, and Suicide Prevention Week from September 7–12 with the message: #WeNeedYouHere.

“I feel like people who are suicidal and suffering have been ignored for too long, and it’s time to get them the love and help that they need,” Kateri told We R Native.

If you need help, or to give help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text START to 741741 to chat via text. To learn more about the signs of suicide and how to help a friend in need, visit the We R Native website.

We R Native is a multimedia health resource for Native teens and young adults run by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. The 50 Native teens and young adults from across the nation began participating as 2015-2016 WRN Youth Ambassadors over the summer, “helping to spread positive vibes and create positive change in their local communities,” WRN said in a press release.

Spreading the message that suicide can be prevented is their first project. To increase the visibility of their campaign they created the hashtag #WeNeedYouHere, and individually they are speaking out.

Suicide has personally affected Ambassador Hamilton Seymour (Nooksack). He shares how his involvement in war canoeing helped him cope with his father’s death in a YouTube video featuring Native youth who are survivors of suicide or suicide attempts.

Ambassador Tenai Tortice (White Mountain Apache) feels personally invested in spreading this message.

“When I was diagnosed with depression it made me feel like I was low … lower than anybody,” he told WRN. “I got closer to my culture, and knowing that I’m a product of a miracle … I’m not supposed to be here … but I am. That’s what empowers me.”

Ambassador SuSun Fisher (Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians), concurs.

“This challenge really hits home for a lot of us,” she said. “Suicide is a very tough subject, and it brings me comfort that we are addressing this issue and letting our people know that we care.”

United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) is promoting a similar campaign using the hashtag #IwillLive. Take 5 To Save Lives offers the following tips:

Step 1: Learn the signs of impending suicide.

Step 2: Join the movement. Use your status updates and tweets to help save lives.

Step 3: Spread the word. Print this sign or create your own using #WeNeedYouHere and #IwillLive. Then tell 5 people about World Suicide Prevention Day!

Step 4: Support a friend. If your friend tells you he or she is feeling suicidal, take it seriously.

Step 5: Reach out: To get help or give help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text START to 741741 to chat via text.

Join the WRN Youth Ambassadors in supporting #NationalSuicidePreventionWeek by spreading the word that suicide can be prevented! Learn more about World Suicide Prevention Day at the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) website. 


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Itshallbedonesoitis's picture
Submitted by Itshallbedonesoitis on
It is a tragedy when a young person feels an overwhelming need to end their life, to feel unloved, to reject life. I feel sad for those who feel this way and I understand those feelings because I have survived them and still endure it after many years. It is not my condition nor those who feel this way but it is a condition that we are born into. Some people are very sensitive, and some people do not feel anything. It is not a unique feeling to be so depressed and wanting to leave this life, but rather a condition the self feels correctly is intolerable. You need love and there seems such a lack of it or are made to feel by all the judgements put on you that you are unworthy. It is very difficult to go through such cruel alienation as a human being and particularly painful as a child or young person because you long for naturally what you came here to be born for; love for each other, love as a human being. There has been such a blindsided cruelty in gaming each other for possession of one another that many have forgotten how to love. Love has been made into something else, reward and punishment, prizes and possession, beauty contests that are ugly, power and authority structures – leaving those of us left out wishing to not be. None of them really see nor understand, love is who you are, your body is apart of you and the real you inside can leave your body behind and go flying, floating or soaring into the sky. No one can see you leave floating up and out. Go soaring where your spirit longs to take you. If you awaken later to being inside your body again then accept your spirit being has chosen to be here and honor your choice. It is intelligent to leave your body instead of killing it, just in case you change your mind or will, then you do have a way back. It feels good to leave your body and I recommend it to give yourself a break from whomever or whatever is making you feel so bad about you or life. If some thing or someone is effecting your environment so profoundly that you are not able to live a reality of love, then I understand it is not you but a lack of caring and respect. It is difficult to be alive in a world so disfigured. It may be that your birth and desire for love is to give of yourself to the natural world, or animals. As human beings we long for our natural state of being connected to others; knowing and feeling loved. Life will not reject us nor the natural world. It will accept our love and will love us also. There is a world out here racing for power, sex, money, fame and the end of the human story. Know that life sees you and understands, its knowing is always with you and a friend you can rely upon. Learn how to listen and talk with life, and you will have awesome moments together and amazing memories. Sometimes the stream of life with humanity comes by lapping at your feet and ankles and invites you in for awhile. Later the stream may toss you out along the way, don’t let it be the end of you because you are alone. Maybe you are being given a special assignment by life from the creator, to love the life where the stream left you out at. Give yourself to that life and it will love you happily also. One day perhaps the stream will not have such surges and wash you out to feel left behind but continue on with a loving connection and closeness to other human beings. You will forever have the richest memories of beautiful life that you loved and loved you – given and shared, precious and priceless; a treasure to keep that can not be stolen. A true value of a true self you will be able to offer our creator for this blessing given to us. I would that our human family could bring each other, the mother earth and our father the creator – happiness instead of tragic suffering. I am sure that our destiny, all this wandering and wondering, is to discover ourselves and one another in love. It is called beautiful.