Art, Poetry Contest Aims to Shed Light on Suicide and Prevention
October 20, 2023
Gila River Indian News
In recognition of Sept. being National Suicide Prevention Month, Gila River Indian Community’s Tribal Education Department hosted an art and poetry contest with the theme “Whispers of Hope” for Gila River Indian Community youth in grades 3-12.
On Sept. 29, three winners were announced: Francis Histia, District 3, an 11th grader from Casa Grande Union High School submitted an art piece; Alayna Mark, District 3, a 12th grader also from CGUHS submitted a poem titled “Diminuendo” and a third 11th grader from District 3 who wished to remain anonymous submitted a poem titled “Hold On.” Their art and poems can be seen online at gricted.com.
“It’s truly a fun project and I absolutely love to see the faces of the winners/participants when they receive their rewards,” said Nadia Huff, TED case management coordinator, who plans to make the contest an annual event.
The winners received a “calm down” swag bag from TED that included a TED blanket, stress relievers, a water bottle, stickers, mints and a scented TEDdy bear along with a certificate of participation and a family pack of four tickets to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.
National Suicide Prevention Month aims to remember lives lost to suicide and acknowledge individuals, families and communities that have been impacted as well as raise awareness about prevention and share messages of hope.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, the overall death rate from suicide is about 20 percent higher for American Indian and Alaskan Native communities than the overall U.S. population.
The contest was developed to promote suicide prevention, awareness and education throughout the Community, according to Huff, who helped lead the efforts.
“The decision to choose an expressive outlet to allow the youth in the Community to show how they are embracing life and hope for suicide prevention came easy in the form of a contest,” Huff said. She added that they were “hoping that we can get more kids in the Community to get a bit more comfortable in expressing their thoughts about the subject matter.”
Huff is also part of the Community’s Suicide Prevention work group that works alongside Gila River Health Care’s Behavioral Health Department and other departments.
She also leads an initiative to create a “training challenge” for TED employees to learn skills and coping mechanisms that can aid in suicide prevention and awareness.
For information about suicide prevention, call Gila River Behavioral Health Services at 520-562-3321, ext. 7100. Also, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day.