Basketball and suicide prevention. The two topics don’t seem to go together, but one organization is pairing the two to try and make a difference in the community.
On Saturday afternoon in Omaha, many kids and adults hit the court for the third annual Hoops For Life basketball tournament. The tournament is run by the Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition, but it’s not just about basketball. The goal is to get people in the community in the door and give them a free mental health screening for suicide prevention.
“It’s clearly an epidemic across the country, but it’s a taboo subject across the country," said Anita Wisecup. "People don’t like to talk about it.”
Organizers say the tournament is working. People sign up to get the screenings and it’s even helped several people over the past few years. “The importance of early screening is to get to kids before they get to the point to do an action.”
Wisecup said it’s especially important for the Native American community because the suicide rates of Native Americans in Nebraska are higher compared to the rest of the population in the state.