Two groups look to the community to prevent youth suicide
Hoping to reach those whom the safety net isn’t catching, two groups are teaching community members how to recognize the warning signs and root causes of suicide among youth and young adults.
Angela Duhaime, transition manager for the Southeastern Regional Action Council, or SERAC, said her agency won a 980,000 grant the tribe received from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2016, Barton launched a project called Skeehch Wuyeekan, Pequot for “good medicine.”
In a project update Barton sent by email, he said he and his team have hosted speakers who addressed addiction and bullying. They helped organize the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event, in its 10th year. They sent 12 young women and three chaperones to a wellness camp in Oregon, where they learned about other tribal communities and how to better contribute to their own.
The tribe also has looked at how historical trauma — for Native Americans in general and for the Mashantuckets specifically — impacts the mental health and well-being of tribal members.
In the update, Barton said “the real heroes” are those on the Youth Council and the five youth who sit on the Good Medicine Advisory Board.
Barton said because of their efforts, three tribal youth were asked to participate in a webinar for other federal grantees this summer.
“They asked to have a seat at the table and to be involved and they have advocated, educated and opened our minds to what it is like to be a Native youth today — the good, the bad and everything in between,” he said. “I am so hopeful for the future of our community with great youth leaders like that.”