Gyasi Ross: Do more to address suicide among our Native youth

Lana Murray, Maddie Big Crow and Iwoblu Big Crow gave a presentation on suicide to the youth on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota as part of the Generation Indigenous Challenge. Photo by Vi Waln

Attorney and author Gyasi Ross calls on Indian Country to do more to address an epidemic facing our youth:
Our ancestors could not pretend that the imminent plagues and destruction that was upon them was not there. No, they had to be sober and vigilant and develop a plan in life and death conditions. If they hadn’t thought and spoken clearly about it and developed a clear plan, it may have meant the death of the whole gene pool.

Epidemic. Deadly. Ravaging Native communities.

Our generation likewise faces life and death circumstances and an epidemic, except sometimes it doesn’t seem like we’re doing as much about it as we could.

See, our kids are killing themselves. Frequently. En masse. According a recent Center for Disease Control study entitled “Racial and Gender Disparities in Suicide Among Young Adults Aged 18-24,” when Native people commit suicide, 40% (!!) of those are between the ages of 15-24. That is starkly different than national averages for other ethnicities where most people who commit suicide are middle-aged. As sad as that is, it makes sense; mid-life crisis, people lose hope and make unfortunate decisions sometimes.

But for Native people, it’s our children who are losing hope during some of the most amazing times of their lives; they’re killing themselves three times as much as anybody else in this country.

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: Deadly Epidemic in Real Time: It's Happening to Native Youth Right Now Before Our Very Eyes (Indian Country Today 10/27)

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