indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Dynamic Homes
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe gears up for uranium battle (8/20)
Eyapaha Today: J. Waylon Miller leads Friends of Cesar Romero (8/20)
Sandra Fox: Fixing the education system for our Indian children (8/20)
Albert Bender: US-backed genocide in Guatemalan spurs exodus (8/20)
Mark Chavaree: Penobscot Nation fights to save namesake river (8/20)
Mark Rogers: One more day with post-traumatic stress disorder (8/20)
Still no word on Cobell payments as end of August approaches (8/20)
Native boy found safe after going missing for nearly 24 hours (8/20)
9th Circuit allows Lummi Nation to pursue fishing rights claims (8/20)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe gains support for land claim agreement (8/20)
Delaware Tribe to discuss plans for land with officials in Kansas (8/20)
Wind River Reservation students enjoy back-to-school haircuts (8/20)
Review: Native man serves as anti-hero in 'Winter In The Blood' (8/20)
Bill introduced to extend recognition to Clatsop-Nehalem Tribe (8/20)
Governor pressed on Menominee Nation off-reservation casino (8/20)
Group seeks referendum on Tohono O'odham Nation casino deal (8/20)
Lawmakers approve Class III gaming compact with Karuk Tribe (8/20)
Enterprise Rancheria awaits action on Class III gaming compact (8/20)
Wampanoag casino opponents hope to catch Obama's attention (8/20)
Opinion: Tribal gaming creates short term and long term benefits (8/20)
Native Sun News: Oglala man's business dealings under scrutiny (8/19)
Mark Trahant: Behind the scenes of Obamacare in Indian Country (8/19)
Peter d'Errico: Book told from perspective of the colonial invaders (8/19)
Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law (8/19)
Opinion: Elder of Wukchumni Tribe working to keep language alive (8/19)
Large crowd turns out to denounce supremacist group's activities (8/19)
Oglala Sioux Tribe suspends officer who repeatedly used stun gun (8/19)
Alaska Native man being treated after being shot by police officer (8/19)
Another guilty plea comes in Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption case (8/19)
Leader of Muscogee Nation goes on trial in theft case next month (8/19)
Court in California won't let Choctaw girl be placed with relatives (8/19)
Tribes hail Oregon decision to deny permit for coal export project (8/19)
Al Jazeera: State struggles with Native language voting material (8/19)
NPR: Osage Nation disputes wind development on mineral estate (8/19)
Chickasaw Nation sell new blend of coffee made from chocolate (8/19)
Activists won't sue over school's Warriors mascot in Minnesota (8/19)
Broadcasters won't use racist mascot of Washington NFL team (8/19)
NIGA to hold mid-year conference at Chickasaw Nation casino (8/19)
Court won't allow former casino workers to sue Morongo Band (8/19)
Official from wine group likens a tribal casino to 'foreign nation' (8/19)
MPR: City pushes for casino amid battle with Fond du Lac Band (8/19)
Editorial: Karuk Tribe casino poses competition to Coquille Tribe (8/19)
Tim Giago: Media was well represented at Wounded Knee 1973 (8/18)
Native Sun News: GOP candidate rejects Senate debate at UTTC (8/18)
Clara Caufield: A Cheyenne Voice celebrates another milestone (8/18)
US House candidate John Lewis proud of Warm Springs heritage (8/18)
Aaron Payment: Story missed the boat on Soo Tribe gaming bid (8/18)
Michael Baines: Stop fighting land decision for Alaska Natives (8/18)
Albert Bender: Fair treatment needed for indigenous migrants (8/18)
John Christian Hopkins: How I became a writer at a young age (8/18)
Neil Young and Willie Nelson stage anti-Keystone benefit show (8/18)
Authorities in Manitoba probe murder of 15-year-old Native girl (8/18)
Judge dismisses case against Fort Peck Tribes housing official (8/18)
Museum in Germany balks at repatriating scalps to tribes in US (8/18)
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.