Walking to Raise Awareness to Domestic Violence & Suicide
Native Americans living on reservations know domestic violence and suicide all to well. If we’re not victims ourselves, we all know someone who has been in either or both of these situations.
Here, within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Health and Human Services Intervention/Prevention Services Department aims to increase awareness about these issues and spark a change for a healthier community.
On October 17, more than 300 people participated in the annual Community Glow Walk at the Salt River Fitness Center. Participants walked a one-block radius around the Two Waters Complex with friends, families and supporters. This year’s theme was “Walk to Honor, Walk to Heal, Walk to Prevent Domestic Violence and Suicide.”
“My sister Molly and I walked in memory of our dear friend, Hemako Antone, whom we lost to suicide in 2003,” said Community member Aristina Sanchez. “He was 20 years old, and his death had a big impact on all the people who loved him, but we had no idea what he was going through. I walked because I want to spread awareness and to let others know that it’s okay to reach out for help and that they’re not alone.”
Glow Walk participants engaged in prayer and spoke about both topics before the walk started. Those who passed were remembered, and those who were victims were offered the opportunity to heal with their Community. Each participant received a glow stick. Many walked for friends and family members; others vowed to help raise awareness about both of these important social issues.
|The Salt River Girl Scouts participated in the glow walk.|
Suicide is also an epidemic across Indian Country. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), “Among people age 18 to 24 nationwide, the suicide rate is 12.8 deaths per 100,000, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between 15 and 24 years old. Among all racial and ethnic groups studied, men at this age were far more likely than women to commit suicide. Within the American Indian and Alaska Native population that age, the rate nearly doubles to 22.5 deaths per 100,000.”
“It was so good to see the Community come together for a purpose, to bring awareness of two issues that have such an negative impact on our Native people. Many walked because they lost loved ones to suicide and are survivors of domestic violence. Each year this event grows bigger and bigger,” said Community Health Educator Vurlene Notsinneh-Bowekaty.
For more information about domestic violence or suicide prevention, contact HHS Intervention/Prevention Services at (480) 362-7350.