Column: Preventing Indian youth suicide
"Within the past two months, four young people on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southern New Mexico have taken their own lives.

One was a 25-year-old man; another man was 19. Then it was a 16-year-old girl. On Sunday, a 14-year-old Mescalero girl died of an apparent suicide, the Ruidoso News reported.

The tragic news brings back into focus the alarming problem of suicides in Indian country, a place where youths kill themselves at a rate 2 1/2 times greater than their peers.

It is a vexing issue, one that has been studied by many academics and generally blamed on the depressing forces of poverty, substance abuse and isolation and the traumatic aftermath of the American government's relocation and assimilation efforts.

If that were so, it would seem to be an unmovable problem.

But it's not. The issue of suicides among Native Americans is made more complicated by the great success of some tribally based anti-suicide programs. Two of the most successful in the country were launched in New Mexico, one on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in northern New Mexico and the other at Zuni Pueblo on the state's western flank.

Those tribes have slowed the suicide rate through their efforts and — for many years — stopped it. "

Get the Story:
Leslie Linthicum: Youth Suicide May Be a Preventable Tragedy (The Albuquerque Journal 10/8)

Related Stories:
Another suicide on Mescalero Reservation (10/7)
Three suicides seen on Mescalero Reservation (09/16)