Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: Transforming the spirit of suicide

A graphic for the Native Cry Outreach Alliance. Image from Facebook

Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross continue their conversation about suicide in Indian Country:
The statistics are bleak—we’re not even going to go into the numbers—instead let’s just say that yes, Native people, especially youth, die by suicide at an alarming rate. The information is available through the CDC and IHS websites.

Instead of stats, let’s look at solutions and techniques for addressing the issue. We’ve spoken with dozens of sources—individuals and organizations who are working to combat suicide—all with powerful stories. Here are a few things that stuck out.

Mark LoMurray has been working on suicide prevention for nearly 50 years. He runs an organization called “Sources of Strength,” and they partner with tribes and villages all over Indian country. Sources of Strength recruits and trains peer leaders who have often been through traumatic situations themselves to mentor others and spread hopeful messages.

And that’s the trick: staying positive, and focusing on strengths, not weaknesses. If you’re in a situation where you can help somebody, remind them of how you got through something rather than emphasizing how difficult it was in the moment. Emphasizing the negative can lead to further feelings of helplessness.

LoMurray also reminds us that even though Native communities experience very real post-traumatic stress and trauma, there are ways to spin that.

“Everybody knows about post-traumatic stress but there’s also post-traumatic thriving," he says. "Some people have been through really, really rough stuff and they’ll make a plan to change their life and get really resilient and grow from that."

And that’s exactly what Rayna Madero, Founder and Executive Director of Native Cry Outreach Alliance, did. Years ago, several of her close family members died from suicide, and in her state of grief (coupled with the fact that she was in an abusive relationship at the time), she attempted suicide as well. Eventually, she decided to do something about it—not just for herself, but for others.

Native Cry PSA from Daniel Golding on Vimeo.

Get the Story:
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: Suicide Chronicles, Part 2 of 5: Transforming the Spirit of Suicide (Indian Country Today 9/27)

Related Stories:
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: A conversation about suicide (9/19)

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