The proposed project, Seminole Tribe of Florida (STOF) Native Connections (SM-19-005, CFDA 93.243) will develop and implement programs to reduce and prevent suicidal behavior and substance use, reduce the impact of trauma, and promote mental health among STOF youth through age 24-years-old. These goals will be attained through universal prevention and intervention strategies that include Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs) and STOF community outreach to treat mental health and trauma-related symptoms. Central to this grant will be the integration of EBP with Seminole cultural practices to treat 30 unduplicated Tribal youth annually.
Nationally, since 1999, suicide rates have increased across all age groups but most significantly among women ages 10-74 and those who live in the most rural counties. Likewise, American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), too, have experienced increasing rates of suicidality and it is the second leading cause of death among AI/AN youth. Data show that more than one-third of AI/AN (35.7%) die of suicide among 10-24-year-olds. Moreover, AI/AN suicides are more than twice as likely to involve alcohol or be influenced by the suicide of a friend or family member.
Moreover, the rate of substance dependence/abuse among AI/AN over the age of 12 was higher than any other population, with nearly 70% of AI/AN adolescents and young adults having received substance abuse treatment. The trajectory for individuals who develop substance use disorders is associated with negative outcomes, as incidents of death by suicide or homicide, incarceration, and health complications being exponentially higher. STOF, too, has experienced similar struggles that mirror the national averages for AI/AN. At the current rates of substance abuse and suicide, the Seminole Tribe of Florida faces extinction within a generation.
STOF’s Health and Human Services (HHS)-Center for Behavioral Health (CBH) clinical team will employ EBPs including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MI). These interventions will target children, adolescents, and young adults to increase their protective factors against substance use and suicide in a culturally informed manner. Additionally, Life Skills Training and the Guiding Good Choices (GGC) will be provided to youth and their families to increase resiliency and prepare youth to transition into adulthood. To destigmatize mental health challenges HHS-CBH will increase its community engagement. Staff will provide youth and their families with prevention and recovery community events that incorporate Seminole culture.
Furthermore, early intervention of mental health and substance use will be provided to treat symptoms promptly in order to reduce their interference on the member’s quality of life. At present, HHS-CBH staff is accessible to Tribal Members 24 hours every day via their on-call system to respond to mental health and substance abuse crises immediately and address, deescalate, and stabilize Tribal Members in order to ensure their safety. This proposed project will increase utilization of this system among Tribal youth with the goal of decreasing the risk factors for suicide.