Suicide is an epidemic among Native Americans.
The Center for Disease Control reports:
"Suicide disproportionately affects American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN). The suicide rate among AI/AN has been increasing since 2003 (1), and in 2015, AI/AN suicide rates in the 18 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) were 21.5 per 100,000, more than 3.5 times higher than those among racial/ethnic groups with the lowest rates."
What We're Doing About It
HeartCrossers is a FireKeepers International project that provides an encounter event for at-risk individuals in order to better connect them with resources who can help them in their hour of need: Their local, regional and federal suicide prevention agencies and qualified individuals as well as the informal aid that can come from reaching out to a friend or relative when thoughts of suicide invade. Coming in the opposite spirit of a suicide pact, HeartCrossers uses positive peer interactions, asking folks to pact together with a friend, a relative, a teacher or mentor for the purpose of reaching toward life, not death; encouraging people to reach out to others when they are in crisis. They sign their pact with their pact partner(s)... with a PERMANENT marker.
TURNING IT AROUND
Remember the old rhyme, "Cross my heart, hope to die?" Well, HeartCrossers takes people who USED TO want to die and helps turn them into people who instead, want to LIVE! Our motto is "Cross my heart, hope for life!" because we have hope for the full days of our life. A hope of love. Of success. Of purpose.
About the program
HeartCrossers Ambassadors travel to give a HeartCrossers presentation at schools, concerts, churches, community centers and other events/venues. Presentations are multi-faceted and typically include some or all of the following:
Heartwarming, inspirational and motivational speeches
An introduction to local mental health professionals and resources
Pacting: An invitation is given and attendees take the HeartCrossers' Pact for Life, signing it with a permanent marker with their friends, mentors, and peers.
Gift-giving: New HeartCrossers (attendees who have taken the Pact for Life) are given a beautifully printed, framable copy of the HeartCrossers Pact for Life; miniature, travel (business card) copies of the Pact for Life to give to their friends; and silicone HeartCrossers wristbands with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline on the inside of the wristband.
New HeartCrossers are encouraged to connect via social media.
The school (or other venue) is presented with a large HeartCrossers banner that new HeartCrossers sign in permanent marker, for public display as a constant reminder.
For more information on HeartCrossers, please visit the website or contact us.