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and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Collaborative Hub to Reduce the Burden of Suicide among Urban American Indian and Alaska Native Youth


Contact Principal Investigator: Spero M. Manson, PhD
Principal Investigators: Dedra S. Buchwald, MD

Suicide Prevention map

Hub Activity Sites

First Nations Community Healthsource, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Seattle Indian Health Board, Seattle, Washington

Project Overview

Urban American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) young adults are at high risk for attempted suicide and for serious mental disorders, substance abuse, gang activity, teen pregnancy, and interpersonal violence. Although many AI/AN youths reside in urban areas, there is limited research to inform the best prevention strategies to address the high rates of suicide among urban AI/AN young adults. Most people who die by suicide have contact with a primary care provider in the prior year, and many are seen in the month before their death. “Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment” (SBIRT) is an evidence-based practice that co-locates behavioral health clinicians in primary care teams and substantially reduces suicide risk through immediate intervention by behavioral health clinicians. However, retention in SBIRT has been a challenge and it has not been tested in urban AI/AN communities to screen for suicidal thoughts or behaviors. This effort will address suicide risk and disparities in receiving prevention support in AI/AN urban young adults ages 18-34 via a multilevel approach targeting both the healthcare system and the individual. 

Research Study

The research study rolls out in 2 phases. First, the research team is evaluating existing SBIRT programs to identify and address factors that affect implementation and prevention of suicide among AI/AN young adult patients served by 2 of the country’s largest Urban Indian Health Organizations. Second, the study will test an intervention that sends caring text messages to AI/AN young adult patients who screen positive for suicidal ideation. The text messages have been adapted from similar empirically-based, effective interventions for suicide prevention and are intended to improve SBIRT retention and increase social and cultural connectedness.

Capacity Building

Lessons learned from this effort will be disseminated and translated into practical policy, organizational changes, and preventive innovations that may optimize patient-centered health outcomes and may ultimately reduce or eliminate the dramatic and tragic suicide-related health disparities among urban AIAN young adults.

Project Website: Suicide Prevention Hub for Urban AI/AN Youth and Young Adults