Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Opinion
Yellow Bird Series: Suicide on the reservation


"A woman whom I'll call Jane, the mother of a suicide victim, may remember Lakota history. But she doesn't attribute the death of her 18-year-old daughter to that history.

In an hourlong, heartfelt conversation, I heard a sad and devastating story from this strong Lakota mother who is reeling from the suicide of her daughter. Jane told me that without her faith in Jesus Christ and prayer, she wouldn't have made it. "It's the only way, and I can tell you it's hard," she said.

It took a while to stop calling her daughter from work, she told me with her soft, halting voice. Her daughter's death left a big void: "There is an empty space there," she said, "and I cry a lot."

Were there signs that her daughter was considering suicide? She didn't see them at the time, Jane said. But like other family members of suicide victims, she looks back now and sees that the signs were there.

Things changed for her daughter in the course of only a year and a half. Before that, the young woman had prayed, listened to Christian music and tried to stay away from kids who were in trouble.

But in the few months before her death, she had started using drugs, particularly methamphetamine. She craved it and it changed her life."

Get the Story:
COLUMNIST DORREEN YELLOW BIRD : Tribe copes with, combats suicide (The Grand Forks Herald 3/16)

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