Cowichan Tribes Suicide Prevention Project
—Sharing in the Light—
Reprinted from "Suicide" issue of Visions Journal, 2005, 2 (7), p. 36
For close to three years Cowichan Tribes has been working on suicide prevention. Our theme is “sharing in the light,” and we strive to create projects that work for our people.
The Kweyulus Mustimuhw (People of Tomorrow) suicide prevention inter-agency committee has a membership of 50 people, including representatives from agencies such as Canadian and Duncan Mental Health, House of Friendship (Hiiye’yu Lelum), RCMP, Cowichan Women Against Violence, Cowichan Crisis Line, Ministry for Children and Family Development, and Island Regional Coroner’s Ofﬁce, as well as local doctors, volunteers, Elders, and youth. As a committee we work hard to include those who want to make a difference in both big and small ways. By being part of the committee, community members have access to the entire suicide prevention project and can give and receive in ways that are healing and inspirational. This wonderfully diverse committee strives to ensure opportunities that are educational, holistic, and full of colour, creativity, care, and concern.
We implemented a suicide prevention support group as of July 2004, and offer seasonal forums/conferences, and suicide prevention training. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is provided through the Cowichan Crisis Line. A co-ed basketball tournament and White Stone1 youth suicide prevention training have been organized for this fall.
People are curious about why we promote playing basketball for suicide prevention. The logic behind this is “to catch youth where they are at”—we are catching our youth on their court, on their playing ﬁeld. What better place to meet our youth and provide some valuable training! By agreeing to play basketball, the youth are also committing to the second day of the program, which is the suicide prevention training. Then, if they are approached by their peers or family members who may be feeling or thinking about suicide, they will have the skills to respond.
In March 2005, Cowichan Tribes had the opportunity to launch the cross-Canada Youth Suicide Prevention Walk. On March 28, nine young First Nations and Inuit walkers left the Cowichan Band gymnasium in Duncan to begin their journey to raise awareness of youth suicide on First Nations reserves and in communities. The walkers made presentations to many First Nations and community organizations, and concluded their journey in Ottawa on June 21, National Aboriginal Day. The Cowichan Sweaters walking club, as well as many community and Kweyulus Mustimuhw members, walked up to 20 kilometres to show their support.
The Kweyulus Mustimuhw committee endeavours to ensure that the Cowichan Tribes membership and community beneﬁt from these opportunities and events regarding suicide prevention. We generally advertise in the Cowichan Tribes newsletter and local newspapers—so keep your eyes and ears peeled!
About the Author
Bev is a Cowichan Tribes member and is Special Project Coordinator with Kweyulus Mustimuhw (People of Tomorrow), an inter-agency suicide prevention committee. She is also Site Leader for the Chronic Illness Care Project and a member of the Aboriginal Suicide Crisis Response Team
For more information feel free to e-mail or call the Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre at 250-746-6184, or e-mail Bev.Williams@cowichantribes.com
For information about White Stone, see Franssen, D. & Tayler, D. (2001, November). A unique partnership: The RCMP and SPTP create a new national Aboriginal youth program called White Stone. Published by Mheccu UBC; retrieved September 14, 2005, from www.suicideinfo.ca/ csp/assets/ sptpwhitestonearticle.pdf
Also see the Centre for Suicide Prevention website at www.suicideinfo.ca/csp/ go.aspx?tabid=140