Building Communities of Hope tour tackles suicide awareness on Rez

Community members at Monument Valley High School take part in the Building Communities of Hope suicide awareness tour Dec. 16. Submitted photo

Community members at Monument Valley High School take part in the Building Communities of Hope suicide awareness tour Dec. 16. Submitted photo

KAYENTA, Ariz. - On Dec. 16, Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown (Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Kayenta) took part in the "Building Communities of Hope" event at Monument Valley High School. The tour was developed in response to the increasing number of suicides taking place on the Navajo Nation.

Brown commended all people and groups involved for organizing the Building Communities of Hope initiative to help with suicide awareness and said he is pleased with the outpouring of support throughout Navajo communities and various programs.

"We have a lot of wonderful people who helped with the planning process, such as [Navajo Nation Division of Health director] Ramona Antone-Nez. She has assisted us since the beginning," Brown said. "The first responders, police, EMT's, school counselors and clinics have been here to provide services to those in need. We have these resources and they are for anyone needing help."

Brown, who represents the

community of Kayenta, has advocated for suicide awareness since a string of suicides occurred in 2015. He added that he hoped that Navajo government, programs, and communities continue to collaborate to help decrease the recent epidemic of suicides on the Nation.

In accordance with an executive order issued in November by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez, the Building Communities of Hope initiative was created to establish a suicide prevention, response and post-vention program.

Nez also attended the event, and said he was saddened to hear of a recent murder-suicide that occurred in Kayenta and offered words of encouragement.

"It is going to be tough for many of us today to present, especially after what has occurred here," he said. "I am here to comfort and be with you. We will get through this tough time as a community, because Navajo people are resilient. Many of us have experienced some tough times and we can get through it as a Navajo Nation."

Pax Harvey, a motivational speaker at the event, recently lost his brother to suicide and provided his personal experience to provide a message of hope.

"Don't be ashamed to ask for help. Professionals are going through this, medicine people are going through this, and even preachers," Harvey said. "This is the step towards bringing people together. I am doing this because I need healing. This is healing for me coming here."

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