Tulalip healing – intervening on youth trauma

By Kara Briggs-Campbell, Tulalip News 

“I love you too much to let you hurt yourself,” Robert Macy, a psychologist who works international trauma relief, said as he talked to the Tulalip tribal community about how to interrupt the thoughts of a youth who is considering killing themselves.

Macy, who is president of the International Trauma Center in Boston, met Thursday, December 4 with tribal member families, tribal staff and staff from area schools, to share techniques of traumatic incident stress interventions. Macy and a team of 100 specialists have worked in communities worldwide after natural disasters, terrorist acts and violent events.

Any effort to bring healing to the trauma that the Tulalip community feels will be built upon a combination of “Western medical practice, international tribal techniques for healing, and Tulalip’s own creativity and ingenuity,” Macy said.

At Macy’s request, no names or direct quotes from those who participated in sessions on Thursday will be shared in this article. Macy made this request out of concern that tribal members and staff be able to speak freely about their concerns in a confidential setting. Instead, the focus of this article is on Macy’s techniques for treating youth in trauma and helping communities with a history of trauma.

“After a traumatic event, your body goes into a higher level of adrenaline to absorb the shock,” he said. “Your adrenaline in this community was elevated for several weeks with the deaths and funerals.”

Your body’s emergency response to a threat is a good thing when there is a threat, but it’s a problem when the danger is gone and the child or adult can’t calm down to go to sleep or go to school or work. This is a sign that the nervous system is flooded with chemicals that keep you on edge and don’t let you calm down.

In this state of trauma, a fishnet, speaking figuratively, must be unfurled to catch every youth and every child who is reeling from the unexplainable and unimaginable events of the past weeks, or the past months and years when other violent traumatic events impacted the tribal community.

“We don’t look for the kids who look like they are the ones in trouble,” Macy said. “We look at all the kids.”

To do this, Macy’s groups works with the community to create and train teams of community members, “from the bus driver to the bartender,” and from the mental health staff to the parents, to intervene with kids and cope with conversation.

It begins with, are you thinking of hurting yourself?  “I say to teens, don’t go into that dark corner, don’t go in there alone. Don’t let the light go out,” he said. “I love you too much to let you hurt yourself. The elders love you too much. Invoke the tribe. The tribe loves you too much to let you hurt yourself.”

With youth who are considering suicide, Macy said, “They are thinking, ‘I am dirty and disgusting. The world will be a better place without me.’” Amid those thoughts, suicide might seem to be the only option for some. The intervention is that there are more options.

At the same time, Macy advised that the Tulalip community agree and communicate that suicide is not only a bad choice, but it is also a taboo that is unacceptable in this community, he said.

For parents and trusted adults, he said it is important to find out what your kid really cares about, what matters the most to them. To do this requires the adult to come to a non-judgmental place of compassion and calm, because what the kid shares might be revolting to you. But finding this out will make a bridge that will help you reach your child, he said.

Some youth may need hospitalization, some may need medicine, and many others simply need outpatient counseling, programs and community engagement. The good news is that trauma is highly treatable as long as it isn’t suppressed and silenced.

“Trauma that is silenced will end in violence,” Macy said.

No decisions have been made by the Tulalip Tribes about what the next steps will be.

Macy said the important thing is to look at the strengths the Tulalip community has, including the resiliency of the Tulalip ancestors, the loving tribal children and parents, and the Tulalip community that is committed to finding a path to healing.


Where to call for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

The Tulalip Tribes’ Behavioral Health Family Services has worked tirelessly since the tragic shooting on Oct. 24 to provide mental wellness to anyone in the tribal community who needs help. Behavioral Health also knows that in crisis, people need help around the clock. Here is a list of the phone numbers with descriptions about the focus of each crisis line.

To report an emergency dial 911

On the Tulalip Reservation and in Marysville, our 9-1-1 calls are answered by SNOPAC, a regional public safety communications center that receives law enforcement, fire and medical 9-1-1 calls for 37 different Snohomish County jurisdictions. It’s staff of “highly trained and dedicated professionals are available 24x7x365,” as stated on SNOPAC’s website. SNOPAC’s Core Values are Integrity, Respect, Professionalism and Teamwork. Learn more at http://www.snopac911.us/.

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The National Suicide Prevention Line, http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/, is a crisis center in the Lifeline Network. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Then you will hear hold music while your call is routed to a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problem. “No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling, you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.”

Snohomish County Crisis Line: 1-800-584-3578

The Snohomish County Crisis Line connects callers with a mental health clinician, who will provide emotional support and crisis intervention to individuals in crisis or considering suicide. In addition to the 24 Hour Crisis Line, an online chat also offers crisis services through Care Crisis Chat for those who prefer to access care via the Internet. Learn more at http://www.voaww.org/Get-Help/Behavioral-Health-Services – sthash.uKHLCR79.dpuf.

Crisis TEXT Line: Text “Listen” to 741-741

The Crisis TEXT Line, http://www.crisistextline.org/get-help-now/, states, “Millions of teens are quietly suffering every day. They struggle with bullying, homophobia, suicidal thoughts and more. The solution is beautifully simple: We provide crisis intervention services to teens via a medium they already use and trust: text. And we use insights from our work to develop and share innovations in prevention, treatment, and long-term care.” It is a program of DoSomething.org, one of the largest non-profit organizations for young people and social change.

24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-866-427-4747

Based in King County, the Crisis Line provides crisis assistance. “We need to talk with you directly on the phone.  By talking with you anonymously and confidentially, we are best able to work with you to find help,” the Crisis Line states on its website, http://crisisclinic.org.

TEENLINK: 1-866-833-6546

Based in Seattle and open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly, TEENLINK puts teens in touch with professionally trained youth volunteers, ranging in age from 15 to 20. “If you need to talk, our volunteers are there to listen and help you find youth-friendly resources in our community,” the TEENLINK website states. About 10 percent of callers are considering suicide, the other 90 percent want to talk about topics such as relationships, problems at school, drugs and alcohol, self harm, grief and loss, dating violence, family problems, eating disorders, and much more. For more information visit, http://866teenlink.org/about-teen-link

National Museum of the American Indian Healing After Tragedy

Rob Caprioccioso, Indian Country Today Media Network

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), a Smithsonian Institution museum on the National Mall filled with Native artifacts and representations of contemporary Indian experiences, is coping with the aftermath of a tragic death there November 23.

The apparent suicide occurred while the museum was open with hundreds of visitors inside. Witnesses told local news outlets that an adult male jumped from a top floor of the building onto the main atrium of the space, where traditional Indian ceremonies are regularly held.

The museum was evacuated after his fall, and the museum re-opened the following day for regular business hours.

John Gibbons, a spokesman for the Smithsonian, told the Associated Press the man was visiting the facility with his family. “He was visiting with his family, but was alone at the time,” Gibbons said. His family was someplace else in the building.”

One concern that museum staffers are working to address—beyond the immediate safety and clean-up issues—is making sure the space won’t be emotionally affected into the future.

“We did have a smudging on Sunday and we will have a blessing on December 5 for all staff to attend,” said Leonda Levchuk, a spokeswoman for the museum. Smudging is a part of many traditional Native American ceremonies, in which tobacco and cedar and other herbs are used to purify and cleanse.

The museum, which opened in 2004 as part of the Smithsonian after decades of planning and fundraising, is a space that deals with Native religion and spirituality.

No staffers want Native Americans who regularly visit the space to feel that its energy has been negatively affected. Real estate agents have talked about similar concerns when trying to sell properties where tragedies, like suicide, have occurred.

Some who have coped with such circumstances have gone so far as to hire priests and other religious experts to exorcise spaces after suicide, as did singer Olivia Newton-John after a contractor died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at her house in August.

Beyond this emotional aspect, there is concern among some staffers that the suicide could potentially affect tourists desire to visit if they fear safety issues at the museum. The man would have had to climb over a four-foot wall and rail at the area he was seen by witnesses, according to news reports.

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident.

RELATED: Man Falls to Death at National Museum of the American Indian in D.C.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/11/25/national-museum-american-indian-healing-after-tragedy-152425

Sequestration Strains Mental Health Services to Natives

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Mental health services for Native Americans took a 5 percent cut due to federal sequestration, and the reduction has cost tribes essential staff and programs, reports NPR.

Native teens and 20-somethings are killing themselves at an alarming pace. For those 15 to 24, the rate is 3.5 times that of other Americans and rising, according to the Indian Health Service (IHS). Tribes have declared states of emergency and set up crisis-intervention teams.

RELATED: American Indian Youth in Crisis: Tribes Grapple With a Suicide Emergency

“People are overwhelmed. Sometimes they’ll say, I just can’t go to another funeral,” says Diane Garreau, a child-welfare official on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, in South Dakota.

But many of these mental health and suicide prevention programs are either being forced to scale back due to a lack of funding, or stunted and unable to expand to meet their community’s needs.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, for one, is now unable to hire two additional mental health service providers, Cathy Abramson, chairwoman of the National Indian Health Board, told NPR.

“Since the beginning of the year, there have been 100 suicide attempts in 110 days on Pine Ridge,” Abramson said at a Senate committee hearing in Washington last spring. “We can’t take any more cuts. We just can’t.”

• 1-800-273-TALK is a free, confidential 24/7 hot line for anyone who is in crisis about any issue and wants to talk to a trained counselor. You can also call if you know someone in crisis and want advice about what to do.
• The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) administers youth-suicide prevention funds provided by the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, named for a senator’s son who killed himself in 2003. The agency hopes that going forward more tribes will apply for them, says Richard McKeon, chief of SAMHSA’s suicide-prevention branch.
• SAMHSA offers technical assistance, on grant-writing and more, through its Native Aspirations program (NativeAspirations.org) and publishes a prevention guide, To Live to See the Great Day That Dawns, available online. The agency also maintains a registry of evidence-based (scientifically tested) suicide-prevention practices.
• For Indian Health Service resources, check the agency’s website.
• Two nonprofits, the One Sky Center and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, offer much helpful information.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/12/sequestration-strains-mental-health-services-natives-151247