Te Mauri - Pimatisiwin

Suicide prevention education: Indigenous youths’ perspectives on wellness

Patti Ranahan, Felice Yuen, Warren Linds

Abstract

Suicide prevention education has been widely accepted as a viable effort to help prevent youth suicide. Education is typically focused at the individual-level revolving around the identification of persons-at-risk for suicide, classifying risk, and referring to formal mental health care providers. Scholars have begun to question standardised and uniform approaches to suicide education within Indigenous communities, leading to the emergence of culturally sensitive education programs. In the following paper, we present findings from an initial phase of a research project that involved a wellness workshop using arts-based methods with a group of Indigenous youth in Canada to explore and understand features of wellness in suicide prevention. Themes of healing, life, ceremony, relationships, and hope were investigated using theatre, video, and photo collage. Analysis suggests that healing, hope, and learning are interconnected, relationships can provide pathways to engaging in ceremonies and traditional practices, and that wellness holds temporal qualities such that a connection to the past in the present fosters hope and vision for the future. Implications for future research are discussed.

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