Substance abuse claiming young Seminole lives
Most members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida never get to see their 50th birthday, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

According to state records examined by the paper, the average age of a Seminole at death dropped from 59.7 in 1997 to 48.5 in 2007. The statewide average age is 73.

"I call it the 'Rez disease,'" Jarrid Smith, 23, told the paper.

Of 17 deaths so far this year, 65 percent have been linked to drug or alcohol abuse. "You grow numb to it, so when someone dies you already accept it," Zena Simmons, 24, said.

Some Seminoles blame the tribe's success. Each member receives a share of gaming and business revenues.

"Maybe the lifestyle on the rez is too easy," Thomasine Jumper, 29, who is in jail for drug and traffic offenses, told the paper.

Get the Story:
Rez disease' of alcohol, drugs is deadly among Seminole youth (The South Florida Sun-Sentinel 9/28)
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