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
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian Law
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:
Office of Special Trustee pitches lower budget as 'taxpayer' savings (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Monuments to white supremacy harm our people (5/23)
Two more spills of oil from Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota (5/23)
Native woman in skirt and sandals wins ultramarathon in Mexico (5/23)
Brothers from Huichol Tribe murdered as drug war rages in Mexico (5/23)
Iowa Tribe misses deadline again to launch internet poker project (5/23)
Mississippi Choctaw citizens request vote on $25M casino project (5/23)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must wait to restart work on casino (5/23)
Documents show few meetings between Secretary Zinke and tribes (5/22)
Landowners on 2 reservations in Nebraska receive buy-back offers (5/22)
Human Rights Complaint: 'We are only letting the white people in' (5/22)
Mark Trahant: Funds for Indian health in danger under Republicans (5/22)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation school works hard to teach language (5/22)
Harlan McKosato: DNA tests can't reveal your unique tribal history (5/22)
Gyasi Ross: Fired FBI director made sure Peltier remained in prison (5/22)
Tiffany Midge: A response to winning the cultural appropriation prize (5/22)
André Cramblit: Treasure your aunties and uncles for their histories (5/22)
Treaty tribes celebrate after court refuses to rehear salmon dispute (5/22)
Eastern Cherokee leaders open impeachment hearing against chief (5/22)
Top Interior nominee contradicts Trump on 'race' and tribal programs (5/19)
Arne Vainio: Expressing gratitude for the people we have around us (5/19)
Lawmakers dug deep to help North Dakota with #NoDAPL response (5/19)
Quapaw Tribe secures EPA grant for cleanup of contaminated lands (5/19)
Steven Newcomb: The racist and toxic roots of federal Indian policy (5/19)
Indian Country braces for worst with Trump's planned budget cuts (5/18)
Bipartisan task force announced to look into Indian Health Service (5/18)
Lawmakers push to renew Special Diabetes Program for Indians (5/18)
Albert Bender: Police slaughter of Native people rages unabated (5/18)
Steve Russell: There's a downside to impeaching Donald Trump (5/18)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe cannabis consultant goes on trial (5/18)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe repays money to address federal audit (5/18)
House passes bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (5/18)
Kalispel Tribe using bottled water at casino after contamination (5/18)
Leech Lake Band wins approval to build new casino at new site (5/18)
Tohono O'odham Nation secures victory in long-running dispute (5/17)
Dakota Access seeks to intervene in Oglala Sioux Tribe's lawsuit (5/17)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves 3 bills at meeting (5/17)
Indian Health Service and 'high risk' tribal programs on agenda (5/17)
Bureau of Indian Affairs designates service area for Tejon Tribe (5/17)
Ruth Hopkins: Taxpayers footing $15M bill for DAPL private army (5/17)
Matthew Fletcher: Expect litigation after Supreme Court decision (5/17)
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.