Culture and Context in Youth Suicide Prevention

Culture and Context in Youth Suicide Prevention


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Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, trailing only unintentional injuries. There is no one single risk factor for youth suicide. Rather, a host of risk factors, including depression and other mental illnesses, substance use, social isolation, and historical trauma all contribute to suicide risk.  

Suicide prevention practitioners, including the Title V agencies that CSN works with, often turn to protective factors to lower the risk of suicide within a community. Building cultural connections and fostering cultural identity are two powerful approaches, especially in communities that experience higher than average suicide risk because of historical oppression, underinvestment, or prejudice.  

In this podcast episode, Jennifer Leonardo, CSN director, speaks with Shelby Rowe. Shelby is the director of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, an active member of the Children's Safety Now Alliance, and a frequent speaker on the issue of youth suicide prevention. Shelby is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, a bead artist, and a mother of three. She is also a suicide survivor. Shelby discusses the important role that culture can play in suicide prevention and shares some examples of promising collaborative practices from the field.