Oklahoma City, OK

Hope Squad

Hope Squad

After a string of suicides in 2016 in Anadarko, OK, Tribal Epidemiology Center staff of the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board decided to make suicide prevention among American Indian youth one of its priorities. Anadarko is home to a large American Indian population. According to CDC data, American Indians have the highest rates of suicide of any racial/ethnic group in the United States. The project empowers students in Anadarko and the Oklahoma City area to address and prevent suicide among their peers. It trains young people in three public schools to be the eyes and ears among their peers to look for warning signs of suicide and to refer any students who are displaying those signs to an advisor.



How They're Solving the Problem

How They're Solving the Problem

Coalition partners are collaborating to implement the following activities:

  • Launching the “Hope Squad” program at three public schools: Mission Elementary, Anadarko Middle School, and Anadarko High School. Hope Squad is a national, school-based suicide prevention program that engages and trains youth to recognize and report warning signs of suicide among their peers. Students have received Hope Squad training and school-based advisors have been trained in an evidence-based suicide prevention method called QPR which stands for question, persuade, and refer someone to help.
  • Hope Squad also focuses on shaping more positive environments at school and in the community by providing young people with leadership roles and shifting norms around talking about suicide.
  • Leading a male health track at the annual Tribal Public Health Conference that includes several sessions on men’s mental health.




The program has significantly improved awareness about and support for suicide prevention in Oklahoma City area schools with large populations of American Indian students. Hope Squad members at the high-school and middle-school levels have referred 22 students to trained mental health advisors for assistance. At the elementary school level, students made 15 referrals related to bullying or students’ emotional state. It has also increased the leadership skills of the young men who are at highest risk of experiencing mental health challenges.


Participating Organizations

Southern Plains Tribal Health Board


Integris Health

Men’s Health Network

Native American Fatherhood and Families Association

Native P.R.I.D.E

Wichita and Affiliated Tribes-RISE suicide prevention program

Kiowa Tribe Teen Suicide Prevention Program

Oklahoma City Indian Clinic

IHS Division of Behavioral Health


Check out this related podcast and video

Elevating Indigenous Wisdom 

Hope Squad


Photo Credit for All Photos: South Plains Tribal Health Board