Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez (l) and President Russell Begaye (r)
“Building Communities of Hope” Initiative Set
Published December 2, 2015
WINDOW ROCK – The Office of the President and Vice President signed an Executive Order launching the “Building Communities of Hope” Initiative to bring awareness by implementing suicide prevention initiatives and offering help to the Navajo people.
The Executive Order states that the third week of December and second week of June shall be declared “Navajo Nation Suicide Prevention Week.”
“It is our goal to welcome a new dawn by empowering individuals, families and communities to make positive choices to restore hope, self-sufficiency and determination,” said President Russell Begaye. “We believe in providing our Navajo people with the means to cope with life’s challenges and to never give up. Every life is precious.”
At the signing, Vice President Jonathan Nez asked for tools to be brought forth from Navajo Nation departments to address the epidemic of suicide on the Navajo Nation. Although the topic of suicide is taboo within traditional perspectives of Navajo culture, he said a dialogue needs to take place within Navajo communities addressing suicide.
The initiative instructs all tribal departments to coordinate resources to address suicide prevention, response, and post-vention. It calls for suicide-related training to be given to Navajo Nation employees.
This effort is a comprehensive strategy to educate the Navajo people on suicide prevention services that exist on the Nation through a direct interface with the Navajo people. The theme of the suicide prevention initiative is “Building Communities of Hope” which focuses on information and outreach.
Additionally, the Executive Order calls for the development of a social media campaign using electronic mediums such as a website, Facebook, or Twitter while engaging in traditional means of advertisement such as billboards and posters. The initiative serves to maximize avenues used to help Navajo people of all ages in a variety of ways.
Furthermore, all tribal buildings will be required to display the “Building Communities of Hope” official poster that will provide a helpline and information to anyone looking for help.
“We need to reinforce the traditional concepts of K’é and Hózhó in our Navajo communities,” said President Begaye. “Among the youth, we need to let them know they have self-worth and that Iiná is valuable. Everyone needs to hear something positive.”
The week of December 14 – 19, 2015, begins the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Tour, whereby President Begaye and Vice President Nez are scheduled to visit nine Navajo communities along with departments and programs to share a message of hope, and to encourage attendees with supportive resources. These resources include on-site clinical specialists, motivational speakers and resource information.