"We are Still Here" -- Culture is Prevention in Tribal Communities: Interview with Shelby Rowe | Episode 39


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All over the globe, young Indigenous men have some of the highest rates of suicide. When we take a closer look at this trend, we understand it is much less about individual mental health issues and much more about the consequences of historical trauma. Programs addressing suicide prevention in these communities are promoting culture and community connectedness through storytelling, ceremony and reclaiming culture. These cross-generational initiatives are rooted in values that link the past and present. Values and priorities like honor, identity, pride and resiliency. In this interview I interview my dear friend and one of the most resilient people I know, Shelby Rowe, who shares how she was inspired by her ancestors to be a “designated culture keeper.”

About Shelby Rowe

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Shelby Rowe is the suicide prevention program manager for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuses Services, and the 2016 Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year. A public health professional, crisis intervention expert and suicide attempt survivor, she has been a leader in suicide prevention at the local, state and national level since 2007. Shelby has been featured in publications such as US News & World Report, USA Today and Cosmopolitan Magazine. She has served as a guest faculty member for safe messaging workshops for reporters since 2013, most recently at the Safe Messaging Summit in Portland, Oregon.

Show Notes

About Shelby

Shelby Rowe https://www.shelbyrrowe.com/

USA Today 2019: Article on Shelby — She worked in suicide prevention. Then one day she had to save herself.

USA Today 2018: Article on Shelby — Suicide survivor profile: Shelby Rowe

Live Through This: Shelby’s story — https://livethroughthis.org/shelby-rowe/

Cosmopolitan 2018; The Invisible 280 - This is the suicide story you're not hearing.

Data and Research Methodology

Data: Suicide among American Indian, Alaska Native http://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/migrate/library/AI_AN%20Sheet%20Aug%2028%202013%20Final.pdf

ARTICLE: Reflecting on Participatory, Action‐Oriented Research Methods in Community Psychology: Progress, Problems, and Paths Forward

Articles and Books

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010) To Live To See the Great Day That Dawns: Preventing

Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults. DHHS Publication SMA (10)-4480,

CMHS-NSPL-0196, Printed 2010. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse

and Mental Health Services Administration.

Barker B, Goodman A, DeBeck K. (2017) Reclaiming Indigenous identities: Culture as strength against suicide among Indigenous youth in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 108(2): e208-e210. http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.108.5754

BOOK: Healing the Soul Wound

BOOK: Native American Postcolonial Psychology

RESEARCH: Dialectical behavior therapy with American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents diagnosed with substance use disorders: Combining an evidence based treatment with cultural, traditional, and spiritual beliefs https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306460315002749

Thomas Joiner’s model of suicide risk: https://www.irmi.com/articles/expert-commentary/understanding-the-suicidal-mind

Promising Programs

Comanche Nation Youth Program — YouTube video

Native Connections (SAMHSA): https://www.samhsa.gov/native-connections/publications

Indian Health Service: Suicide Prevention and Care Program: https://www.ihs.gov/suicideprevention/

We Are Native: For Native Youth, By Native Youth https://www.wernative.org/

American Indian Life Skills: https://www.sprc.org/resources-programs/american-indian-life-skills-developmentzuni-life-skills-development

White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) Celebrating Life Prevention Team: https://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/resource-program/WMA%20SSS.pdf

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