September 23, 2015

Awareness is key to suicide prevention

By Edna Sailor

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Willow Smith knows that better than anyone and as Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Boys and Girls programs on Fort Berthold worked diligently with children in her neighborhoods. In that position she developed programs to address relevant issues in her community not only in September but for the past three years.

Willow Smith’s last day as the Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the TAT Boys and Girls Program was Friday, September 18. During her tenure, Smith’s approach has included opening conversations about risk areas that are known to professionals to lead to suicide.

At the top of the list of concerns that could potentially become deadly, Smith and her staff address such issues as cutting, child abuse and bullying. Smith knows these actions place children in her club at risk for suicide.

"We try to get our children comfortable with the idea that if any of these things are happening, they need to find someone they trust to talk to. If it is not a family member, they know others to talk to or they can bring it to the club. Suicide has such a stigma attached to it that we have to proceed with care to address issues. People think talking about it will give our kids ideas. We already know that is not the truth. Not talking about it is more harmful than good," she said.

Recently, the Boys and Girls Club held a family style event to reach out to the community to talk about suicide and other problems facing children and their parents on the reservation.

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