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AND I LIVE IT: Traditional Values, Activism and Resilience in the Face of Suicide

AND I LIVE IT: Traditional Values, Activism and Resilience in the Face of Suicide



Darien Thira, PhD

Darien Thira, PhD

NAHO 2009 National Conference



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    AND I LIVE IT: Traditional Values, Activism and Resilience in the Face of Suicide AND I LIVE IT: Traditional Values, Activism and Resilience in the Face of Suicide Presentation Transcript

    • AND I LIVE IT: Traditional Values, Activism and Resilience in the Face of Suicide Darien Thira, PhD darien@thira.ca * www.thira.ca
    • King Fisher by Tobias Watts (Nuu-chah-nulth Nation)
    • STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Research Question What is the experience of Aboriginal men and women who have been suicidal and have transitioned from their crisis to a pro-social active role in their community?
    • PROCEDURE Five steps: (a) arranged invitation into the community and participated in community-based health organization’s ethical review (1 year process), (b) focus group, (c) participant recruitment, (d) research interview, (e) follow-up interview to discuss results.
    • PARTICIPANTS Four criteria: (a) previous suicidality, (b) current social activism/ community contribution, (c) membership in one of two specific Vancouver Island British Columbia First Nations, and (d) be over the age of 21.
    • ANALYSIS Grounded Theory
    • FINDINGS (a) Within their integrated self/community life-world (b) mutually reflexive self/community engagements facilitated (c) the healing journey of Aboriginal activists within a colonized context.
    • SELF/COMMUNITY LIFE WORLD Resolving the Individual-Collective Identity Dichotomy
    • SELF/COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENTS Foundational Categories of Engagement (a) connection (i.e., harmonious interconnection within the self/community life-world), (b) empowerment (i.e., capacity to act within and upon the self/community life-world), (c) identity (i.e., the existential internalization of the self/community life-world), and (d) vision (i.e., the experiential internalization of the self/community life world).
    • SELF/COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENTS ACTIVATING ENGAGEMENTS Activating Engagements: propel the participants into action within their self/community life-world. They include: (a) care (i.e., the desire for the happiness, health, and safety of the self/community life-world with which they are connected), (b) respect (i.e, the recognition that individuals in the self/community life-world are distinct, capable of and responsible for making their own empowered choices, and worthy of value in themselves), (c) responsibility (i.e., a sense of duty toward the self/community life-world with which they identify), and (d) culture (i.e., the traditions, protocols, and teachings associated with the community’s unique history and vision).
    • SELF/COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENTS HEALING ENGAGEMENTS Healing Engagements: specifically contribute to the paths of transition from pain rooted in past wounds to a healthy present and a hopeful future. They include: (a) integration (i.e., intra-psychic or cultural re-connection), (b) cleansing (i.e., psychological release or spiritual purging resulting in empowerment in the face of past trauma), (c) transformation (i.e., personal or spiritual change in identity), and (d) transcendence (i.e., contextualization of experience or spiritual visioning ).
    • SELF/COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Resilience and Reflexivity Reflexivity of Engagement: is the simultaneous mutual enhancement of resilience in both the activist and their community life-world resulting from either the provision or reception of self/community engagement experiences and activities (e.g., Schwartz, 1992; Pepper, 1942/1970).
    • HEALING JOURNEY OF ACTIVISM Enhancing the Community’s Resilience Through the activism of its members, the community itself has the opportunity to transition to: - a connected and empowered collective - with a self-generated identity (rather than one imposed by the colonizer) and - a culturally rooted contemporary and hopeful vision of its future.
    • HEALING JOURNEY OF ACTIVISM Resilience and Contribution Wellness: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance (e.g., Weaver, 2002). Living in a good way: living in a manner that promotes harmony across the self/community life-world (e.g., Favel-King, 1993).
    • HEALING JOURNEY OF ACTIVISM Resolving the Healing-Activism Dichotomy Three solutions to avoiding assimilation through “healing”: (a) resistance was promoted by the sanctioned service providers who served as healers and radicalizers, (b) all of the activists used the techniques they received for their own healing to serve as healers and helpers for others in their community, and (c) all of the participants pursued deeper solutions for their bio-psycho-socio-historical-cultural-ecological-spiritual state of disharmony than was offered by sanctioned services: - psychosocially contextualization - pursued local Cultural-spiritual solutions
    • IMPLICATIONS (a) Self/community Life-world Model: integration and/or development of many lines of enquiry into Aboriginal health. (b) Reflexive Self/community Engagements: opportunity for policy makers/clinicians to approach Aboriginal suicide in a manner that enhances resilience through resource development related to the categories of engagement. (c) Conflating Healing with Activism: reconsideration of the definition of and modes of healing in the Aboriginal community that reduces the risk of assimilation through “adjustment” focussed treatment.
    • THANK-YOU! Hay-ceep q’a siem Gilakasla