Navajo Nation officials in Utah have declared a state of emergency following a string of recent suicides among young people.
The declaration means emergency funding will be made available to Utah's Navajo Health System, as well as other agencies across the Navajo Nation including in Arizona and New Mexico. Over the last few months, the small community of Montezuma Creek, Utah has experienced a spike in suicides among teenagers and young adults.
The funds will be used to increase suicide prevention efforts in primary and secondary schools across the Navajo Nation, create a network of health professionals, and implement education programs focusing on awareness and destigmatizing mental illness and treatment.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez are working with the Navajo Department of Emergency Management and the Navajo Division of Health to address the issue. Tribal leaders will meet this week in Window Rock to discuss suicide intervention and response. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the suicide rate for Native American youth ages 15 to 24 is nearly four times higher than the national average.