indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Senate committee plans hearing on Indian suicides
Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will hold a hearing this summer to examine extremely high rates of suicide among Native youth.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the vice-chairman of the committee, said youth suicide rates on reservations have reached "epidemic levels." He cited the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has seen 10 suicides since 2004, including two earlier this month. The nearby Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has seen 24 young people have killed themselves in three last three years.

Similar stories can be found elsewhere in Indian Country, from the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona to the Pueblos of New Mexico. "We need to address the root causes, the assistance that's available to troubled teens, and the funding and human resources that are needed to reverse this devastating trend," Dorgan said in announcing the hearing, which he called a first in the Senate.

It has been known for years that American Indian and Alaska Native youth have the highest rates of suicide in the nation. According to government studies, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Native youth ages 15-24. Young Indian males and young Alaska Native males are particularly vulnerable.

"While the Indian Health Service has reported progress, the mortality rates among Native Americans from causes as diverse as diabetes, tuberculosis, certain types of cancer, and suicide, remain shockingly above the national average and unacceptably high," said Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the chairman of the Senate committee, at an April 13 oversight hearing on Indian health.

The recent tragedy at the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota, where a 16-year-old student killed nine people before taking his life, has renewed focus on the issue. According to a state survey of public school students, 43 percent of boys and 82 percent of girls at Red Lake thought about killing themselves, rates far above the state average.

"Just a few weeks ago, we were once again tragically reminded that one's health involves much more than physical health -- it's also mental health," said Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) at the oversight hearing. "I hope that we can do much more than we are doing right now."

Tribal and Indian leaders say the attention is long overdue. Pointing to high rates of poverty and unemployment, and a lack of opportunities on reservations, they have sought increased resources for health care services and for programs that target Indian youth.

"The Red Lake tragedy should serve as a decisive indicator, like the canary in the mine shaft, that the health care crisis in Indian Country is real, tangible and, left unanswered, capable of tragedy," said Sally Smith, the chairwoman of the National Indian Health Board.

According to A. Kathryn Power, the director of the Center for Mental Health at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Native youth are at heightened risk of suicide due to these and other factors because they can contribute to depression and can lead to substance abuse. Studies show that Native youth use more likely to use illicit drugs than any other racial or ethnic group in the country.

"For American Indian and Alaska Natives," Power told the committee, "depression and substance abuse are the most common risk factors for completed suicide."

A date for the hearing on suicide has not been announced but Dorgan said it would occur in June. He also plans on putting together a field hearing on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which covers North and South Dakota, to gather more information. A witness from the reservation will be invited to testify at the June hearing.

Related Stories:
Two teens dead in murder-suicide fueled by drugs (04/25)
South Dakota tribe combats suicide among its youth (04/18)
BIA establishes partnership to tackle teen suicide (04/08)
New York Times: Indian children being left behind (04/05)
Deadly tragedy puts focus on Native youth problems (3/24)
Yellow Bird Series: Suicide on the reservation (03/16)
Yellow Bird Series: Suicide on the reservation (03/14)
Lawsuit filed over teen's suicide at BIA jail (12/02)
Native students subject to high rates of school violence (11/30)
Suicide rates explode among Colombia's Natives (11/23)
Native community in Manitoba hit by rash of suicides (11/02)
Anderson eyes changes in BIA school system (07/23)
Bill includes suicide prevention funds for tribes (07/16)
Tribe in Brazil sees high rate of youth suicide (04/14)
Report finds lax safety measures at BIA schools (04/08)
Friends, family shocked by INS agent's suicide (03/19)
Ariz. tribe sees alarming rate of suicide attempts (03/09)
Pueblo leaders forming suicide support group (02/18)
CDC calls attention to health disparities in U.S. (02/09)
Survey finds high-risk behaviors among BIA students (11/13)
Smoking rates among Natives highest in nation (10/10)
Study links childhood experience to alcohol abuse (09/19)
Indian Country tops drug report again (9/17)
Native youth top drug use survey again (09/06)
Report card shows Native students falling behind (06/23)
Native youth targeted in anti-drug ads (5/17)
Native youth heaviest smokers in nation (4/3)
Report: Native youth highest drug users (10/5)
Ad campaign targets youth drug use (9/7)
Drug use high among Native youth (9/1)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com

More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Designation sought for Cheyenne warrior site (3/30)
Mark Charles: Nation was built on the dehumanization of others (3/30)
Kevin Abourezk: Students retrace journey of Chief Standing Bear (3/30)
Julianne Jennings: Taking care of our eyesight in Indian Country (3/30)
BIA delays ruling on Pamunkey Tribe federal recognition petition (3/30)
Native Sun News: Businesses show support for LNI tournament (3/27)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter climbing in the ranks (3/27)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives look 10,000 years into the future (3/27)
Ivan Star: The influences of boarding school and Vietnam War (3/27)
Gyasi Ross: Funerals become family reunions in Indian Country (3/27)
Tim Giago hands over the reins as publisher of Native Sun News (3/27)
House committee passes Native American Children's Safety Act (3/27)
Bill to benefit Miami Nation moves forward in House and Senate (3/27)
City extended contract to send treated sewage to sacred peaks (3/27)
Oneida Nation welcomes ruling backing land-into-trust request (3/27)
Lawmakers want BIA to delay new federal recognition reforms (3/27)
Another conviction from Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption probe (3/27)
Editorial: Shakopee Tribe contributes $5M for health initiative (3/27)
Opinion: Navajo Nation enacts 'sin tax' on unhealthy products (3/27)
Editorial: Opposition to Pamunkey Tribe recognition 'revolting' (3/27)
Dennis Jenkins: Hypocrisy for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (3/27)
Supreme Court asked to hear Kialegee Tribal Town gaming case (3/27)
Ho-Chunk Nation extends agreement for off-reservation casino (3/27)
Indiana lawmakers seek role in Pokagon Band gaming compact (3/27)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux leader not pleased with boycott (3/26)
Lakota Country Times: Lakota Nation Invitational stays in Rapid (3/26)
Native Sun News: Mayor of Rapid City addresses race relations (3/26)
Jane Daugherty: Tribal e-commerce continues to draw scrutiny (3/26)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee's field hearing (3/26)
Richard Iron Cloud: Remove murderer's name from sacred peak (3/26)
Native Youth: Bring dental therapy providers to Indian Country (3/26)
Steven Newcomb: Tribal nations still under dominating process (3/26)
Law firm hosts tribes for session on marijuana in Indian Country (3/26)
Judge upholds BIA decision on Oneida Nation land-into-trust bid (3/26)
Appeals court rules against Crow Tribe in housing grant dispute (3/26)
Ho-Chunk Nation raises minimum wage to $2.75 above federal (3/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe to appeal decision in recognition lawsuit (3/26)
Racist emails of former Montana federal judge to be preserved (3/26)
Shingle Springs Band considered but rejected indoor gun range (3/26)
House panel backs bill to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (3/26)
Quapaw Tribe did not include casino on land-into-trust request (3/26)
Chumash Tribe never got apology for diplomat's casino remark (3/26)
Governor won't sign casino compact with Fort Sill Apache Tribe (3/26)
Cherokee Nation approves $6.9M renovation project for casino (3/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux veteran training for Paralympics (3/25)
Alaska Native musher Chuck Schaeffer completes 2015 Iditarod (3/25)
LTBB News: Michigan tribes come together for historic meeting (3/25)
Lecture focuses on repatriation of tribal intellectual properties (3/25)
Board still working on delivering money for Cobell scholarships (3/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair field hearing on drugs in Indian Country (3/25)
Bill for tribal marijuana compacts up for hearing in Washington (3/25)
Choctaw Nation chief hopes to travel to Ireland for monument (3/25)
HHS urged to do more to help tribes with foster care programs (3/25)
Eastern Cherokees work to teach language to new generations (3/25)
Another suggestion for Indian woman on $20 bill -- Sakakawea (3/25)
Man from Crow Tribe cites self-defense in fatal casino shooting (3/25)
Shawnee Tribe sees opposition to off-reservation gaming plan (3/25)
Navajo Nation signs Class III casino compact with New Mexico (3/25)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.