September 2011 Suicide Prevention Update

In response to reports of suicides among Bhutanese and other refugees resettled in the U.S., RHTAC has sought to develop resources and tools that are consistent with our goal of improving the health and well being of newly arrived refugees by providing technical assistance focused on refugee health and mental health to refugee-serving organizations. At RHTAC, over the last few months:

  • Dr. Heidi Ellis presented Suicide Among Refugees: Understanding the social and cultural context for prevention strategies via webinar and a suicide prevention workshop was facilitated at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) National Consultation;
  • A series of themed conversations have been conducted with resettled Bhutanese individuals to ground our understanding of community strengths and challenges with regard to suicide prevention;
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the request of the ORR and in collaboration with RHTAC, has developed an investigational framework to increase our understanding of risks for suicide, belongingness and burdensomeness, and Bhutanese community resilience;
  • Ten Bhutanese community members from 8 resettlement states are working with RHTAC to develop tools that will orient Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) trainers to refugees and their experiences; each of these community members is now certified as a master trainer for the QPR suicide prevention training model. Our goal is to increase the capacity of QPR trainers (there are over 4,000 across the country) to work with refugee communities and the resettlement network.

Dr. Samantha Stewart of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture notes:

“Suicide prevention is being aware of warning signs, decreasing risk factors, increasing protective factors, and being willing to approach the suicidal individual and persuade them to seek help with your assistance. Suicide prevention should be undertaken by any member of an individual’s network.”

We encourage you to continue and deepen your engagement with refugees to strengthen a refugee’s sense of belonging and minimize a refugee’s sense of burdensomeness.

Learn more about Suicide Prevention.