Education | Law

Fort Peck mother files suit against school for son's suicide

A woman from the Fort Peck Reservation says the local school district and the state of Montana are responsible for her son's suicide.

Roxanne Gourneau, a former chairwoman of the tribe who now serves as a family court judge, says the school and the state should have taken greater precautions to address youth suicide. Last year, five children committed suicide and 20 more attempted suicide.

"This is a high-risk area. Not everybody can teach in these conditions," Gourneau told the Associated Press. "The interest here is the high rate of suicide. If you're a professional that deals with these students every day, wouldn't it behoove you to get that extra training?"

Gourneau's son was disciplined by a counselor at Wolf Point High School just hours before he committed suicide. He was told he was going to be miss an upcoming wrestling tournament due to his suspension.

In the lawsuit, Gourneau says her son was "shocked and depressed with the news" and shot himself.

Since October 2010, two more children from the reservation have committed suicide and 20 more have attempted suicide.

Get the Story:
Mom files lawsuit in Indian child suicide outbreak (AP 6/1)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Response plan needs to address Indian youth suicide (3/29)
Fort Peck Tribes still struggling with high rate of youth suicide (3/21)