Community Working to Prevent Suicides: September is Suicide Prevention Month

September 7, 2018


Claude A. Jackson

Defense Services Office


Suicide could happen in a swanky apartment, hotel room in New York or Paris or in the back yard of someone’s property. Suicide does not discriminate by race, ethnicity or age. If you live in poverty or fly in private jets, it doesn’t matter. There is not one situation which leads people to think about suicide. It could be stress, depression, health conditions, relationship problems, but we know no culture is immune from the trauma of suicide. 


Nationally, Indian Country is experiencing high-rates of suicide than any other race or ethnicity. 


Frankly, it is difficult to understand what leads an individual to engage in suicide related behaviors, however the Community can unite to tackle the problem head on. Gila River Health Care Behavioral Health Services has a prevention program. 


“There’s so much stigma (surrounding suicide),” said Jaime Arthur, BHS Prevention Administrator. She talked about how people can support others by being “open, honest and providing clarity” regarding suicide.


And what of suicide prevention? Arthur boils it down to its essential component. “Suicide prevention is all about (healthy) relationships,” she said. “And reminding people the importance of socializing. Socializing keeps us connected.” 


Too often people become withdrawn and not actively engaged in their surroundings. “They feel alone,” Arthur said, which may lead to long-term depression – an emotional state that could lead to suicidal ideations. Short-term depression could be just as dangerous because there is still a chance of someone taking extreme measures on themselves.


 In addition, substance use and other negative behaviors can increase the risk of self-harm.

Arthur said that everyone can “learn how to be supportive. Part of that mission, Arthur said, is “getting more information out to the Community.” Arthur talked about suicide prevention trainings that “need to be as common as CPR and first aid.”

Arthur never had to use her CPR training, but she’s had to use her suicide prevention training “many times over.”


The prevention program is working with the Gila River Indian Community Suicide Gap Workgroup, a group of departments within the Community, working in education, first responders, behavioral health, and department of rehabilitation, schools, churches, and many other Community departments that may encounter suicide situations. The goal of the workgroup is to identify gaps within those departments or areas of expertise to enhance suicide prevention efforts. Active Community members are part of the group as well.


The Suicide Gap Workgroup has been preparing for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which is this September. Throughout September, each district will showcase suicide prevention in its own distinct way. Look for advertisements where ads are posted, including Gila River Health Care’s insert in this issue to promote Suicide Prevention Month and other Community events.


If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, please contact the following numbers, GRIC Crisis Line 1-800-259-3449, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or 911. If you would like information about Behavioral Health Services or would like to start services, please call Paul Gibson at 602-271-7942.