Native Americans for Community Action to put on suicide prevention walks Sept. 9-14

Two-mile wellness walks planned for Chinle, Polacca and Williams during suicide prevention week

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) will put on a series of events in different communities all geared toward improving the health and well-being of individuals in a culturally sensitive way during National Suicide Prevention week, Sept. 9-14.

NACA, whose mission is to provide human and health services to individuals and families with community involvement and healthy respectful working relationships, runs the REACH Ur Life program.

Audrey Bradley, mental health specialist for the program, said they have had success with prior events and want to expand into new areas.

"We decided to do another series into different areas, areas that might not have as many resources but areas we were interested in working in," Bradley said.

Each event includes a suicide awareness wellness walk called the "Walk of Hope." The walks are about two miles long and are meant to represent one's journey-a series of small steps filled with hope and a reminder than no one should walk on this journey alone.

Polacca's event takes place Sept. 9 at the Hopi Healthcare Center, the event in Chinle takes place Sept. 12 at Chinle's Indian Health Service Center and the event in Williams takes place Sept. 13 at Cataract Lake.

The group's event in Winslow on Sept. 14 will be a bigger affair because September is suicide prevention month. The walk will start at the park on Cherry Avenue.

As an incentive for people to show up and participate, the first 100 participants who sign up and register at each event will receive a free T-shirt.

In each community, NACA works with different organizations and agencies, which deal with different aspects of helping people in need, in order to help people understand that thoughts of suicide can be caused by many different things. Many of these organizations and agencies will be represented at each event.

"Suicide can include so many different risk factors, homelessness, losing a job, loss of a loved one," Bradley said. "Just about any resource out there can be helpful to someone who's contemplating suicide or in a state where they are feeling extreme sadness, any type of resource could be helpful."

REACH Ur Life offers a free three-day training on suicide prevention, which helps people recognize someone who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide and connects them with someone who can help. The program also offers an in depth two-day training that includes how to help a person in need directly and how to disable thoughts of suicide.

Eudora Redhouse, program assistant for REACH Ur Life, works with youth in different areas of a variety of different ages at Leupp Dorm Schools and Sebai Dalkai School and Flagstaff Dorm students.

"We do activities that promote positive coping skills that can be done at home to deal with stresses in their lives," Redhouse said. "Sometimes we just try to provide cultural activities as well."

REACH Ur Life also offers mental health screenings for students ages 11-18 years-old who have had thoughts of suicide or other mental health concerns. Bradley said family members or a teacher sometimes refer students. The schools can ask the group to screen students, too. They also accept students on a walk-in basis.

A community coalition, the Northern Arizona Suicide Prevention Coalition Committee helps support REACH Ur Life and the members come from all over Northern Arizona, from Page to Tuba City to Flagstaff. Bradley said when the group's grant money runs out, the coalition will still be in place.

More information about becoming a vendor or about the events is available from Bradley at (928) 526-2968 or at www.reachurlife.com.

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