Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Action Summit Addresses Suicide in Tribal Communities

August 1-4 marked the first Action Summit for Suicide Prevention, an unprecedented collaboration among Federal agencies to address suicide emergent suicide and substance abuse prevention issues in Indian Country.

Hosted by the Indian Health Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the summit provided a unique opportunity for prevention leaders from across the country to share current research and promising practices for addressing suicide and substance abuse prevention, intervention, and aftercare. Participants and presenters included nationally recognized speakers, behavioral health providers, tribal leaders, health care providers, law enforcement, first responders, and school personnel. The event emphasized the importance of collaboration with tribal, federal, state, and community leadership, programs, and resources for the advancement of American Indian and Alaska Native behavioral health.

During the summit, SAMHSA’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (CAPT), in partnership with the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroups (SEOW) contract and representatives from the Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council (MYWYTLC) and Tohono O’odham (TON), hosted a presentation on the use of epidemiological data to inform prevention planning. Specifically, the panel explored:

  • Applying SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework to suicide prevention efforts
  • Methods for identifying, collecting, and analyzing relevant data to inform suicide prevention in Tribal communities
  • Strategies for building the capacity (i.e., resources and readiness) of Tribes to address substance abuse and suicide prevention

Stephanie Iron Shooter, from MYWYTLC, and Cheryl Green from TON, discussed their experiences applying the SPF to their Tribes’ suicide prevention efforts, including the steps they took to initiate a dialogue around suicide, build community support for prevention efforts, leverage existing resources, and identify, collect, and analyze data. SAMHSA CAPT and SEOW contract epidemiologists presented potential data sources and methods for overcoming barriers to identifying, collecting, and analyzing data.

According to CAPT Epidemiologist Kristen Clements-Nolle, “Our collaborating partners [MYWYTLC and TON] did a fantastic job of demonstrating how SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework can be applied to suicide prevention, It was inspiring to see the innovative work that tribal communities across the United States are doing to address such an important issue”.

For information about other SAMHSA activities to prevent suicide, please visit


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