Education | National | Sports

Column: Oglala Sioux teen reaches out to vulnerable youth

Janay Jumping Eagle. Photo from Native Sun News: Ramping up efforts to prevent suicide

Janay Jumping Eagle, a young member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, is offering hope on the Pine Ridge Reservation:
Standing in the Little Wound High School gymnasium during a physical education class last week, I was entertained by kids in motion.

But I was also worried: Is one of them vulnerable?

If so, which one? Could one of those cheerful-looking kids with squeaking basketball shoes be the next sad statistic?

I hoped not, of course, but also understood the realities of suicide among Native American youth, and rates far above national average. It’s a problem that has reached crisis proportions in parts of Indian Country. Much has been done. But much more work remains, challenging the resources of understaffed, underfunded suicide-prevention programs and leaving the rest of us wondering what we can do to help.

Fourteen-year-old Janay Jumping Eagle didn’t wonder for long. After the latest suicides in her part of the world, including a first cousin, she turned to social media and the sport she loves to send a message: There is hope. The freshman guard for the Little Wound Mustangs is dedicating her season to suicide prevention, and urging those who follow her on the basketball court and Facebook to find hope and seek help if they need it.

Get the Story:
Kevin Woster: Teenager offers hope in fight against suicide (KELO 2/3)

Join the Conversation