Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 4 – 10, 2016)

by Karen Marshall
Sacred Bundle Outreach and Training Coordinator

Here we are, easing out of summer and casting an eye toward fall and all it represents: Kiddoes back to school, cooler weather, stunning shows of color as the leaves change from luscious greens to their own brilliant hues. Soon, we’ll see the full Harvest Moon rising over the last of this year’s warm weather gardens.

Also arriving within the first few days of September is a day set aside internationally that brings our attention to supporting the lives of people around us who are thinking that life is no longer worth living. September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. The week around September 10 was established by the suicide prevention organizations based in this country as Suicide Prevention Week … and these days, it’s breaking boundaries and expanding to a full month of attention to preventing the preventable.

Yes, suicide is often preventable. And you can be a person who makes all the difference!

You … with or without formal training … have a role to play.

Knowledge and skills can be learned by anyone who has the heart to help and who takes the time to learn how to help save a life from suicide. Here at American Indian Health and Family Services, the Sacred Bundle Youth Suicide Prevention project offers workshops and trainings on a regular basis.  Interested in finding out more about what you can learn? Check out the information at the end of this piece, or contact Karen Marshall, our Outreach and Training Coordinator at or (313) 846-6030, ext. 1404.

9-1-16 gls logo

In order to mark Suicide Prevention Week this year, a number of national organizations that educate the general public about suicide prevention, intervention and post-vention have joined together in an informal way to promote a theme: It’s called Be The 1 to …

9-1-16 be the one

Here are 5 things anyone can do to help a people survive their struggle with thoughts and feelings about ending their life:

1. Be The 1 To…Ask. (About suicide)
2. Be The 1 To…Keep Them Safe. (By removing access to lethal means);
3. Be The 1 To…Be There. (By being present, listening with compassion and without judgment, letting them know you care about them);
4. Be The 1 To…Help Them Stay Connected. (To caring others—friends, family, therapists, clergy, teachers, coaches, etc.—and to the Lifeline and other 24/7 crisis care resources); and
5. Be The 1 To…Follow Up. (By checking in regularly with the person you are concerned about, for days and weeks after the crisis – be sure to let them know you are thinking about them, and that you are there to help if needed).

A similar project is Take 5 To Save Lives that invites you to spend 5 minutes learning 5 ways to be helpful to a person at risk of suicide. Website:

In addition to learning the specifics of how you can help a person at risk, you can also be part of changing the conversation around suicide. Stigma, myth, shame and denial have no place in saving lives from suicide. The subject was shrouded in silence for centuries, and it didn’t stop attempts or deaths. These days, we know that a caring community, open and honest conversation about difficult subjects, and access to good resources and care can make all the difference.

Wondering about resources?

AIHFS has affordable services for people of all ages who can benefit from behavioral health and/or medical care. Many times, treatment can include traditional, culturally-based ways and ceremonies for healing.

Trained crisis workers are available by text, chat or telephone through the Lifeline 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255). Website:

Or, text “GO” to 741741. Free, 24/7, confidential.

Do you know a military Veteran at risk? Check this out:

9-1-16 veteran

Often, all it takes is 1. Can that be you?

Lights! Camera! Action!

by Karen M. Marshall,
Outreach and Training Coordinator

For one day in April here at AIHFS, it was “Lights! Camera! Action!!”

No, not Hollywood visiting – the production crew was two people, a producer and videographer up from Atlanta. The cast was made up of agency staff and community members. The scene was our wonderful murals in the Social Hall. Still, it was a day to remember!

AIHFS and the Sacred Bundle Program were selected by the federal agency SAMHSA (Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administration) to be featured in its monthly Road to Recovery series. The show appears on the SAMHSA YouTube channel, and on Public Radio and Television stations, throughout this month. A link to the program is at the bottom of this page!

This month’s topic is the roles anyone can play in reducing suicide deaths and attempts. Our Sacred Bundle Youth Suicide Prevention project is designed to make positive differences in the lives of people who may think there is no help and no hope. We are determined to support communities that want and need a safety net for those at risk of suicide. Things are changing in positive ways!

The Road to Recovery program includes a panel discussion with four experts in the field. There are two more Michigan connections there –  Amelia Lehto with Common Ground Resource and Crisis Center in Pontiac and Polly Gipson, PhD, from the University of Michigan.

Here is a wrap-up of what Sacred Bundle has achieved so far:

  • Its first round of grant funding, received in 2012, was for three years. Continuation funding was awarded in 2015, this time for five years.
  • The major focus includes:
    • Suicide awareness, prevention, intervention and post-vention trainings and services in the urban counties in and around Detroit; now expanded to the federally-recognized tribes throughout the state.
    • Hope & Wellness screenings of young people ages 10 – 24 for depression, suicidality, and substance use in a variety of community settings including powwows;
    • Referral resources, including those that are culturally-appropriate for our community;
    • Specialized programs on a variety of topics; and
    • Outreach with informational materials at meetings, seminars and events.
  • Sacred Bundle works at AIHFS with the Dream Seekers youth programming, as well as with Emotional and Spiritual Wellness, Health Education, and the medical team, to make AIHFS a suicide-safer organization.
  • Formal data collection and evaluation through the University of Michigan.
  • Partnerships that range from the internal programs mentioned above, to 5 of the 12 tribes, to the State of Michigan (which also has the same SAMHSA grant we do), to a number of smaller, locally-based organizations involved in the same work.

All of this is funded through the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention grant program, which has supported state and tribal projects for more than a decade. It was an honor to be chosen from the SAMHSA grantees to be featured in this month’s Road to Recovery!

What does all of this mean for you?

First, I hope you’ll take a look at the show, then share it with people you know who wonder what goes on at AIHFS in addition to medical and behavioral health care, and cultural activities. If you have questions or want to be involved in some way, please contact me at (313) 846-6030, ext. 1404, or by email at

Second, there truly is a role for all of us in saving lives from suicide … with a little bit of training, you can be the friend, family member, co-worker, or complete stranger who recognizes that a person is struggling with thoughts of suicide, and you can know what to do to help.

We are busy partnering with tribes around the state and supporting the lifesaving work of suicide prevention wherever we can. Please join us …


Here is the program link:
AIHFS is in 2 different sections of the show, at 23:52 and then again at 41:58.