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Methamphetamine & Suicide Prevention Initiative

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In September 2009, the Indian Health Service (IHS) began the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) as a national pilot demonstration project focused on addressing two of the most pressing public health concerns in American Indian and Alaska Native communities -- methamphetamine use and suicide. The MSPI supports the use and development of evidence-based and practice-based models which are culturally appropriate prevention and treatment approaches to methamphetamine abuse and suicide in a community driven context. The MSPI supports 130 programs across the country, consisting of:

  • 111 MSPI Tribal and IHS awardees;
  • 12 MSPI Urban grantees;
  • 2 MSPI Youth services grantees; and
  • 5 IHS Area Office Projects.

Methamphetamine and Suicide in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Although each American Indian Tribe and Alaska Native Village is unique, recent studies, statistics and testimony focused on the problems reveal the need for energetic and innovative efforts to combat methamphetamine use and suicide in Indian Country. The following list gives a small sample of the findings.

  • A 2005 survey found that American Indians/Alaska Natives had higher methamphetamine use rates (for the year prior) than any other racial group surveyed except Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders.*
  • Some drug cartels have specifically and systematically targeted Indian Country as a methamphetamine market.**
  • The Indian Health Service issued a report finding that the suicide rate for American Indians/Alaska Natives in the IHS service areas (for 2002-2004) was 1.7 times that of the U.S. all-races rate (for 2003).***
  • According to the same report (and corroborated by other research), suicide is the second leading cause of death for Indian youth residing in IHS service areas. Furthermore, the IHS report found this suicide rate to be 3.5 times higher than the national average.****
  • For some Native communities, the overall rates for suicide (all age categories, not only youth) were 3.5 times that of the overall U.S. population suicide rate.*****

Although the statistics give an idea of the problem, behind each statistic is the story of an individual, a family and a community impacted by the devastating consequences of methamphetamine use and /or suicide. Some of these stories have been shared with the wider community by those impacted by suicide and methamphetamine. Their stories educate us and challenge us to do more to prevent methamphetamine use and suicide. Their stories also tell about the strides some communities have made in their struggle to address these formidable challenges.

MSPI Background

Heeding the call to do more, Congress authorized the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative as part of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (which was permanently reauthorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). The Indian Health Service is tasked with implementation of the initiative.

The goal of the MSPI is to expand community-level access to effective methamphetamine and suicide prevention programs and to promote the development of successful evidence-based and practiced-based models of prevention, treatment, and aftercare for American Indian / Alaskan Native communities.

Tribal MSPI Programs

All of the pilot programs funded through MSPI develop models and programs that:
  • Coordinate community services to respond to the problem of methamphetamine use and /or suicide
  • Participate in a nationally-coordinated program focusing on increasing access to prevention / treatment services
  • Provide community-focused responses that enhance evidence-based or practice-based methamphetamine and /or suicide prevention or treatment services or education programming
  • Provide communities with needed resources to develop their own community focused programs
  • Establish baseline data information for the communities
  • Document the level of need for the communities; and
  • Are scaled at a level that will ensure a measureable impact

MSPI Web-Portal

The MSPI web-portal is a social networking web portal that allows program participants to connect virtually so they may share information on what has worked and what has not worked in their respective prevention programs. This dialog also provides an opportunity for programs to share ideas, suggestions, advice and support. In addition to increasing communication between programs, the web-portal also enhances communication between participating programs and program partners, namely-- the Indian Health Service, JBS International, the National Council of Urban Indian Health and the National Indian Health Board.

The MSPI portal also presents MSPI-related information from diverse, outside sources. The portal provides an archive of presentations and brown bags for programs to access and use. Finally, the portal streamlines reporting procedures and creates feedback loops for real-time communication.

To learn more about the MSPI programs visit: http://ihs-mspi.jbsinternational.com

* Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. Methamphetamine Use, Abuse, and Dependence: 2002, 2003, and 2004. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2005.

** Ragsdale, W.P.,(former) Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. Testimony offered to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for hearing on the “Problem of Methamphetamine Use in Indian Country.” 2006.

*** Indian Health Service, Office of Public Health Support, Division of Program Statistics. Trends in Indian Health, 2002-2003 Ed. Rockville, MD: Indian Health Service; 2003.

**** Id. See also Borowsky, I.W., et al. Suicide Attempts Among American Indian and Alaska Native Youth: risk and protective factors. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999;153: 573-579.

***** Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Injury Prevention Program and the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center. Alaska Native Injury Atlas of Mortality and Morbidity. Anchorage, AK: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; 2008.


The National Indian Health Board provides one-on-one technical assistant to MSPI Tribal project sites to meet any of their unique and specific needs. Please feel free to fill out the form below and we will respond promptly to your request.

Please specify what kinds of services you are requesting:
(check all that apply)

Tele-assisted Training or Technical Assistance (through phone & email)
Electronic Resource Request
Webinar Training or Technical Assistance (via Webex system)

Please describe the nature and extent of the issue or problem you are experiencing*:

Tribe & Program Information

& Program Name*:

Contact Information

* Required Fields.



Behavioral Health Inquiries:

Robert Foley, M.Ed.
Acting Director of Public Health Programs

National Indian Health Board
910 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Phone: 202-355-5494
Washington, DC 20003
[email protected]



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