Oglala Sioux Tribe loses grant for suicide prevention program

Youth participate in a healing camp on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo by Cindy Giago

The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is losing a federal grant that supported a youth suicide prevention program while a school on the reservation is gaining some funds.

At least 20 young people on the Pine Ridge Reservation have taken their lives since December and more than 250 have attempted suicide. Yet the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration rated the tribe's application for more than $3.6 million poorly, the Associated Press reported.

This is very frustrating because we are in a state of emergency,” Yvonne "Tiny" DeCory, a suicide prevention worker, told the AP. “We are No. 1 in suicides in Indian Country.”

The tribe is seeking an extension in order to improve its application, a request supported by the state's Congressional delegation. Otherwise, the program will run out of money by the end of December, the AP reported.

The loss of the funds came as the Department of Education announced a $325,000 grant to the Little Wound School, a Bureau of Indian Education facility on the reservation. During the 2014-2015 school year, there were more than 100 suicide attempts.

“These incidents are troubling, and my heart goes out to the students, families and community of Pine Ridge,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a press release. “There are so many people involved in the work to help children, families and the community heal after these tragedies, and this grant will help this community receive the services it needs to move forward in restoring the learning environment.”

Get the Story:
Reservation loses funding for suicide prevention program (AP 11/20)
Little Wound School Gets Federal Suicide Grant (AP 11/20)
Congressional Officials Meet With Pine Ridge Youth On Suicide (South Dakota Public Radio 11/20)
Noem shines light on troubled Pine Ridge youth (KOTA 11/20)
House Representatives visit Pine Ridge to address suicide crisis (NewsCenter 1 11/20)
Rep. Noem Returns To Pine Ridge For Youth Suicide Issue (KELO 11/21)

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