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Suicide Epidemic on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

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posted on May, 5 2015 @ 05:55 PM
By posting this, I hope to get a discussion going
regarding the problem of suicide in general and
the plight of the Native American in particular.

In 2007, the NY Times released a disturbing report detailing the suicide epidemic at the Rosebud Reservation which neighbors Pine Ridge in South Dakota: “American Indian and Alaska Native youth 15 to 24 years old are committing suicide at a rate more than three times the national average for their age group of 13 per 100,000 people, according to the surgeon general. Often, one suicide leads to another. For these youths, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death (after accidents). In the Great Plains, the suicide rate among Indian youth is the worst: 10 times the national average.” What is causing this spike?

June 2007 -
May 2015 -

I grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and I was there in 1973 at the time of the Wounded Knee Incident. At that time the life expectancy was about 30 years old, and has only improve slightly in the past 40 years. The population on Pine Ridge has among the shortest life expectancies of any group in the Western Hemisphere: currently about 47 years for males and 52 years for females.

Located in South Dakota, it is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe and is 2,000,000 acres large with an estimated population of close to 40,000. The reservation is large, and its needs immense, commensurate with grinding poverty. Unemployment is over 80%, the weather is extreme, and families struggle mightily with crushing financial, housing, health, educational and social issues.

Pine Ridge is the eighth-largest reservation in the United States and it is the poorest. The population of Pine Ridge suffer health conditions, including high mortality rates, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, malnutrition and diabetes, among others. Reservation access to health care is limited compared to urban areas, and it is not sufficient. Unemployment on the reservation hovers between 80% and 85%, and 49% of the population live below the federal poverty level. Many of the families have no electricity, telephone, running water, or sewage systems; and many use wood stoves to heat their homes, depleting limited wood resources.

edit on 5-5-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 5 2015 @ 06:17 PM

The number of suicides in the US military has remained constant after reaching record levels in 2009. In 2014 there were 288 suicides among active-duty personnel, less than 1 percent up from the 286 in 2013, preliminary Pentagon data shows.

Five myths about military suicides -

Our all-volunteer military reflects the society in which its soldiers were raised, and any problem that affects the country also affects those troops. Suicide is one of those problems. Indeed, troops who take their own lives have often been heavy drinkers or suffered from mental health issues such as bipolar disorder — the same factors linked to suicide in the civilian world.

Although the military suicide rate recently eclipsed the rate among civilians of similar age and background, the civilian rate has also soared. More Americans now take their own lives than die in car crashes. The increase has been particularly pronounced among baby boomers and other middle-aged Americans.

> Suicide rates increased in Europe and the U.S. during Great Recession

> Baby boomers are killing themselves at an alarming rate, raising question: Why?
- 5e9247e8ca_story.html

More Americans now take their own lives than die in car crashes. Why?

edit on 5-5-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)


posted on May, 5 2015 @ 06:38 PM
I'm not sure i can add much in the way of discussion here, just to say that i dealt with some of the people at Pine Ridge when buying a handmade banjo strap from there that was made on teh reservation and they were the loveliest people on earth to deal with.

One of the reasons i bought from them was not only because of the quality of thier work, but i'd heard that it was a very poor reservation, so i thought my custom may help a little.

If indeed it is as poor a community as they say, would this be poorer than other poor places in the US....hence maybe more depression and subsequent suicide do you think?

Just thinking aloud.

Sad story either way.


posted on May, 5 2015 @ 06:46 PM
I don't know about the Native American culture regarding death but I know that some Alaskan natives tend to celebrate it and even go so far as having an annual ceremony similar to a birthday where they get together on the date of a family member's death to honor them.

I could see a teenager that A) feels like life doesn't have much to offer... because in many of these tribal cultures, it doesn't and B) is starved for attention believing that suicide would get them more recognition and "love" from their family.

posted on May, 5 2015 @ 06:55 PM
It's a horrific situation...

But when you have no hope it's hard to move forward.

The federal govt has failed, betrayed, destroyed the culture and heritage of the people.

Until they can feel pride in who they are I doubt things will improve for the entire group.

Least that's my useless 2 coppers worth...I hope a path can be found to help them... Because to not hope is to give up on life and I'm not ready to yet.

Unfortunately I do not know how to find the path they need.

posted on May, 5 2015 @ 06:55 PM
a reply to: wasaka

S&F for an interesting topic...

I have often thought about going to work for the Indian Health Service. The life expectancy for these people is far too low.

It's almost as if this topic is never talked or reported about. I find it very disheartening that there doesn't appear to be much happening in order to turn things around, either.

posted on May, 5 2015 @ 07:10 PM
My heart goes out to you and your people, I spent a lot of time on the Tule Indian Reservation in California growing up, and the poverty level is really hard for us to comprehend. Third world country at best.
You would think we would honor the Few Natives that are left. Its very hard to embrace a way of life that is so different from their cultural heritage. Our way of life has been forced upon them. They didnt ask for this. And when I look at the bad shape our national forests are in, it makes me just sick that the Natives are no longer the caretakers of the earth. They kept it cleaned by using dead trees for their fuel etc.

I am also deeply sickened that Father Serra is being made a Saint.

Also, I live in N. California, and our Native Wintu Tribe has lands around Shasta Lake that they still use in Ceremony and Ritual, and now the Dam is being made larger, and their sacred land is going to be under water. This I see as a real tragedy.

A few of my moms people were Cherokee and Chickasaw. Im only 10% but, my heart bleeds for my native grandfathers.
edit on 5-5-2015 by misskat1 because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 5 2015 @ 07:37 PM
a reply to: wasaka

How would you feel if you were born into Lakota tribe family...?

They marched to the UN building one year ago to deliver a signed petition claiming genocide at the hands of US government.

What was the Council General's response when the tribe reached his lobby?
Not here.

See why I asked first question?
I am not Native American.

posted on May, 5 2015 @ 08:49 PM
Isn't that where both the #1 and #2 top grossing sales of Budweiser™ is? If I remember right, one store was on one end of the reservation and the other was at the other end. This sales are also per can and evidently Busch™ lawyers had the law changed to allow sales in 'singles' due to the fact that alcohol possession is against the law there?

posted on May, 5 2015 @ 10:29 PM

originally posted by: Irishhaf
It's a horrific situation...

But when you have no hope it's hard to move forward. not hope is to give up on life and I'm not ready to yet.
Unfortunately I do not know how to find the path they need.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV).
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love."

People who commit suicide all have one thing in common.
That one thing is hope, or lack there of. That is why people
kill themselves--they see their circumstance as hopeless.

The path forward is to find hope, to stop valuing the valueless. Sadly, not only is Native People afflicted with the white man's poison (alcohol) but they are also consigned to live on a reservation where to problems of depression and alcohol are only magnified. There is hope to be found leaving the res, but for many escape is easier said than done.

posted on May, 5 2015 @ 10:54 PM

originally posted by: lovebeck
a reply to: wasaka

It's almost as if this topic is never talked or reported about.

That is why I raised the topic. It is a taboo subject.

Look that general statistics -
"In 2009, suicide was ranked as the 10th leading cause of death among persons ages 10 years and older, accounting for 36,891 deaths."

"In 2009, the number of deaths from suicide surpassed the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes in the United States." So reads the opening line from the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for May 3. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the number of fatalities from car crashes in 2009 was 33,883 — down from 37,423 in 2008. In 2009, there were 36,909 suicides in the U.S., according to the CDC — up from 36,035 in 2008.

After an 11-year study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
has come to a startling conclusion: more people now die in
this country by their own hand than from car accidents.
also found a huge jump in Baby Boomer rates, health officials
say that is partly due to economic problems. "Another factor
may be the widespread availability of opioid drugs like OxyContin
and oxycodone, which can be particularly deadly in an overdose."

Essentially, the suicide rate for people in their fifties jumped up by about 50 percent — and that rate is about 30 suicides per 100,000 people. That's incredibly high compared to 10 years ago, and what's perhaps more troubling is that 50-somethings aren't exactly those we normally talk about when we talk about suicide.

Yes, this is a taboo subject. So is talking about the
right rate of suicide in the military.

Service members committed suicide during 2012 at a record pace: more than 349 took their own lives across the four branches, or one every 25 hours...

Yes, this is a taboo subject... but the biggest taboo of
all is talking about suicide among Trans-gender people.

Transgender Suicide Attempt Rates Are Staggering

Nearly half of young transgender people have attempted suicide

Margaret Unwin, the Pace chief executive, said: “The lack of visibility and acceptance in society contributes to these shocking figures about suicide attempts and self-harm in trans young people. While society’s attitudes towards transgender people are changing, it is still not fast enough and the negative impacts on trans people’s mental health every day are huge.”

“Parents of transgender youth have to take the time to listen to their kids when they’re trying to assert their gender identity,” says Vincent Paolo Villano, Director of Communications at The National Center of Transgender Equality. “At the school level, teachers and administrators have to understand what policies need to be in place to make sure that transgender students are learning and thriving in school, and give them the space to be who they are.”

edit on 5-5-2015 by wasaka because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 12:08 AM
a reply to: Granite

Another example of capitalist hubris.

The wellbeing of all peoples are rejected in a capitalist society.

Separating out one tribe, while instructive, will not solve the problem. Only coalition will. Suicide is rampant among many people. People of all colors, ages, professions, histories have seen suicide rates rise and the monied classes don't care nor do they wish working and poor people to know it.

Suicide can seem the only rational solution to life in this hyper-feudal captialistic world we live in (there are pockets, too few of hope).

Capitalism = Capital (wellbeing of weath and power) is the prime operating principle. Authoritarian, fascist
Socialism = Society (the wellbeing of all) is the opeating principle. Egalitarian, democratic

Always wonderful to hear from the edges of society. Bottom up servant leadership.

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 04:23 AM
a reply to: wasaka

"Tunkasila Wakan Tanka heya hoye wayelo, Tunkasila Wakan Tanka heya hoye wayelo.

Tunkasila omakiyayo makakijelo."

"Grandfather, Great Spirit, a voice I am sending, Grandfather, Great Spirit, a voice I am sending.

Grandfather, help me for I am suffering."

That is an Oglala Prayer Song. I was singing this and others, too, just the other day. I like to sing these songs very much. The language is very beautiful.

Wasaka, the same is happening to Indigenous People the world over. Check out how life is for the Aboriginal Australians or the Yanomami in Brazil. It is exactly as you describe at Pine ridge. Even here in the UK because I think a certain way I am condemned to a life on the side lines. It is a social thing. You are all alienated, deprived of so much because you want your autonomy and to follow the ways of your ancestors instead of this earth hating corporate lie.

Find your own power as a community. Have pride in who you are. There is the choice of joining in with modern U.S society, too. Your people can either choose to integrate with mainstream society or retain your cultural lifestyle and ancestry. Either way, it is right.

The alcohol and drugs are always a problem for people who have pain and they are used as pain killers.

I feel for you and your people. I have read so much about your culture. "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown is a wonderful book that documents the hideous genocide carried out by the settlers. I cried for weeks reading that very thick book!

I wish you and your people every blessing. Survival International are a decent group and charity who try to help Indigenous People. They have resources. I wish I could help personally, but I am five thousand miles away across the ocean.

Take care, Wasaka, always be hopeful and never give up.

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 02:14 PM
a reply to: Revolution9

Philámayaye (pee la ma ya)

Thank you.

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