Chief Gary Batton has shown that good health – physical, mental and emotional – is at the forefront of his efforts to improve the lives of Choctaw Nation members. In recognition of illnesses related to the tragedy of suicide, Chief Batton signed a proclamation that declared September 2016 as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
The proclamation reads, in part: Whereas, suicide is one of the most disruptive and tragic events a family, and a community can experience, and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma recognizes that most of these deaths are preventable; for Native Americans, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for all ages; and approximately 41,149 people die by suicide every year…the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority has accepted the directive to make suicide prevention a priority. “Zero Suicide” is the goal as training is planned to help health staff become aware of the needs, not just for a month, but for year around.
To further this cause, Chief Batton is urging “all employees and members of the Tribe to work toward reducing stigma for mental health seeking behaviors, speak out about suicide prevention, and make others aware of the signs and symptoms of suicidal” tendencies in others.
Melanie Jones, Project Director, Choctaw Nation Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention, states, “The Behavioral Health Department is grateful for Chief Batton and Assistant Chief Austin’s support in our endeavor to achieve the goal of Zero Suicides in the Choctaw Nation. As you will see in the proclamation, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Native Americans aged 10-34. We strive to educate the health system employees and the residents of the Choctaw Nation about the signs and symptoms of someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts.”
A primary cause of suicide is mental illness, very commonly depression.
Warning Signs of Suicide
1. Talking about suicide
2. Statements about hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness
3. Preoccupation with death
4. Suddenly happier/calmer
5. Loss of interest in things once cared about
6. Unusual visiting or calling people one cares about
7. Making arrangements & setting one’s affairs in order
8. Giving things away
9. Acquiring guns or stockpiling pills