From: The Honorable Ben Ray Lujan
Sent By: monica.sanchez@mail.house.gov
Date: 3/2/2016

Dear Colleague:

I would like to bring to your attention a growing public health issue among American Indian populations.

American Indian and Alaska Native young adults have the highest suicide rates across every demographic group in the United States. American Indian and Alaska Native youths (ages 15-34) have a suicide rate that is nearly 1.5 times higher than the national average for this age group.

Despite these alarming statistics, there is a severe lack of access to mental health services at tribal health facilities and Indian Health Services. Furthermore, providers are often not trained to understand cultural issues that may affect outcomes. These barriers, coupled with disproportionate levels of trauma, substance abuse, poverty, unemployment, and lack of educational attainment adds to the growing list of problems contributing to the suicide epidemic among tribal nations.

In order to raise awareness for federal efforts to prevent suicide among American Indians and Alaska Natives, I am hosting a Congressional Briefing in collaboration with the American Psychological Association (APA) on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 in the Gold Room, 2168 Rayburn House Office Building from 12:00 to 1:15pm. Lunch will be provided.

The invited panel will include experts in the area of American Indian and Alaska Native health, including: Lynette Grey Bull, Director and Chair of the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs, Dr. Richard McKeon, Chief of the Suicide Prevention Branch of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Gayle Morse, Associate Professor at the Sage College of Albany.

Please contact Erin Carney (ecarney@apa.org) at the APA Public Interest Government Relations office by March 10th to RSVP.

Sincerely,

Rep. Ben Ray Luján