Project Lead(s): Eva Duarte -Davidson
The Emberá community in Colombia consists of approximately 90,000 persons and has one of the highest rates of suicide and attempted suicide, particularly in children, adolescents and young adults. This trend is congruent with other indigenous communities in this and other regions of the world, and is attributed to many reasons, including rapid cultural change, loss of land, family disintegration, exposure to conflict and violence, and extreme poverty. Emberá communities recognize suicide as a major problem, but there is no organized community response and there is insufficient information to determine whether current beliefs about suicide and communication of events reinforce incentives and result in epidemic outbreaks. Suicide is both a symptom and a cause of community destabilization; the direct economic costs cannot easily be determined.
This project will develop a time-limited, psychosocial intervention, combined with culturally-appropriate suicide education and prevention for Emberá indigenous communities in the Choco region of Colombia that are affected by violence related to the internal conflict and resource extraction and interests in the region. This project will target adolescents and young adults through the modification of a service model that is currently implemented by Heartland Alliance International in Colombia that focuses on the Afro-Colombian community of the Pacific, employing paraprofessionals from the same community, testing its efficacy and adaptability for use in indigenous communities. Over 150 adolescents and young adults with depression or suicide related symptoms will receive treatment by psychologists and trained paraprofessional care givers. At the same time, 30 community leaders, traditional healers and local authorities will be trained in how to better identify at-risk youth within their communities.