indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tribal sovereignty foe in charge of nation's environmental agenda (2/20)
Trump gets another extension in Supreme Court tribal casino case (2/20)
Senate finally ready to consider nomination of Ryan Zinke for DOI (2/20)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on Trump 'priorities' (2/20)
Tim Giago: Our Lakota children are dying while we wring our hands (2/20)
Mark Trahant: Indian programs gain 'high risk' label at worst time (2/20)
Native Sun News Today: 'Haven For Hope' proposed for homeless (2/20)
Ivan Star Comes Out: 'Civilization' aims to alienate Native America (2/20)
Cronkite News: Navajo leader pleads to Trump to help power plant (2/20)
André Cramblit: Sorry but Indian Country just got 'Trumped' again (2/20)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Sen. Hoeven raises red flags in Indian Country (2/20)
Peter d'Errico: Indian Country's 'trustee' isn't trustworthy anymore (2/20)
Raymond Hitchcock: The facts about Wilton Rancheria's casino plan (2/20)
Wilton Rancheria seeks to join lawsuit as gaming site is put in trust (2/20)
Tribes find common ground with Trump on Supreme Court nominee (2/17)
Bureau of Indian Affairs issues 'trespass' notice to #NoDAPL camp (2/17)
Hearing on injunction against Dakota Access moved to February 28 (2/17)
Native Sun News Today: Drilling test in treaty territory stirs concern (2/17)
Editorial: Presidents on Mount Rushmore didn't treat tribes so well (2/17)
Native women pushing for action on missing and murdered sisters (2/16)
Army Department formally cancels Dakota Access Pipeline review (2/16)
Native Sun News Today: Dakota Access firms see spills, explosions (2/16)
James Giago Davies: Tribes face bigger threat than Dakota Access (2/16)
Cronkite News: Navajo school official worried about Trump era cuts (2/16)
Monte Mills: Tribes turn to courts to battle Dakota Access Pipeline (2/16)
Steven Newcomb: Dakota Access marks growth of imperial empire (2/16)
Vena A-dae Romero: Bringing our tribes out of obesity & diabetes (2/16)
Gyasi Ross: Native and African people share history of resistance (2/16)
Mohegan Tribe announces resignation of top gaming executive (2/16)
Jena Band of Choctaw Indians secures funding for casino hotel (2/16)
Standing Rock leader vows to 'forgive' after White House slight (2/15)
Native women host briefing on missing, murdered women & girls (2/15)
Native Sun News Today: Vic Runnels was an artist for all seasons (2/15)
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.