Yes to Life! promotes suicide prevention in September

Emma Hughes
Gila River Indian News


September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of the sensitive yet critical topic, especially among tribal communities which are at a higher risk.


Compared to the U.S. population, American Indian/Alaska Native populations are disproportionately affected by suicide rates among all other racial and ethnic groups, according to the CDC. Suicide rates have increased nearly 20% from 2015.


Suicide often occurs in individuals who may be suffering from mental illness, which affects mood, behavior and thinking, such as depression which is treatable.


Some warning signs may include:

- Acting reckless or engaging in unsafe activities

- Feelings of hopelessness, emptiness or irritability

- Changes in appetite, mood, or sleeping patterns

- Increase drug or alcohol use

- Trouble concentrating at school or work

- Talking, joking, or asking about suicide or death

- Giving away possessions, especially valued ones


GRHC’s Behavioral Health Services has been actively reaching out to the Community through online and in-person education and resources. 


The “Yes to Life!” (Y2L) initiative, a campaign dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness in the Gila River Indian Community and provides important information and resources available.


Throughout this month, Yes to Life! offers online workshops on mental health awareness and activities such as a self-care family paint night, scavenger hunt, and 5k run/walk for suicide prevention awareness.


Online QPR suicide prevention trainings are also available for participants 18 years and older, and a teen QPR suicide prevention training for ages 15 and older. 


Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR), similarly to CPR, is intended to provide lifesaving training on how to help prevent suicide by learning how to better talk to and understand the individual and how to detect warning signs.


The Y2L Drive-thru events are also taking place throughout the Community, offering bags filled with information on suicide prevention and awareness along with flyers for upcoming events. 


“People are always happy to receive information and other things that come with it,” said Aya Garton, Prevention and Education Specialist for GRHC’s Behavioral Health Services.


Garton was present for the drive-thru event on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at the District 1 Service Center. 


Her job focuses on substance use prevention and suicide prevention by raising awareness through informational events and trainings throughout the Community.


Prevention services include outreach in the schools for life skills training and teaching different coping mechanisms for children and how to deal with stress and anxiety.


They also offer active parenting classes which provide ways to open up communication, encourage cooperation and responsibility, effective discipline and problem solving. 


“There’s a whole bunch of different things that we do, and we just try to reach out to the Community and give them information and get them connected to resources.”


For more information on this month’s trainings and activities, visit

If you or someone needs help, the following resources are available:

Gila River Crisis Line: 1-800-259-3449

National Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-8255

Teen Lifeline (statewide): 1-800-248-8336