Native American teens continue to suicide, emergency Federal aid granted


[Read the post]


(Edit: in re-reading, my own post seemed a bit cold blooded; so I add: these suicides are tragic, especially in the already grim context of the conditions of our native American populations; but I know of nothing I can write in that vein that isn’t a pointless repetition of the obvious or a maudlin cliche. Perhaps more than anything in relatively common human experience, death is something that makes speech seem like a category error. This is why we speak of a person’s life at their funeral. This is why I can only pass over these deaths in silence and instead consider what we know about how to avoid repeating them.)

I realize that this would be somewhere between cold-blooded and egregiously reprehensible to study, except through some clever indirect statistical analysis of past events; but my own (notably…tepid) experience with school-issue talky-empathic-types leads me to wonder how much, if any, research we have available on the efficacy of suicide prevention through comparatively low intensity interventions of this flavor(higher intensity than the usual staffing for the school, hence the federal aid; but lower than would be usual for the patient of a psychologist/psychiatrist, and substantially lower than an inpatient setting you might end up in if your suicidal intentions get too overt for comfort).

Do additional counselors produce no effect? Suppress the spate of ‘copycat’ suicides that often occurs after one student kills themselves but produce no effect on the background level of suicidal ideation and behavior? Effect an improvement in the immediate term and in the background level?

In particular, I’d be curious to know if there are different approaches or different specialists(or if there should be, but they aren’t available because it’s not a problem that attracts much interest) between the ‘Suburban High School rocked, saddened, by tragic suicide of student, counselors made available’ (where the patient zero likely was in need of psychiatric treatment, or was otherwise in the grip of a particularly nasty set of personal circumstances, and there is concern about copycat suicides; but the community as a whole is more or less as healthy and non-doomed as we make them); and the cases where there was a suicide in a school; but the community as a whole is known to be beset by horrific levels of unemployment, substance abuse, violence, and the sort of hopelessness that comes from the (mostly accurate) assessment that you and everyone around you are viewed as irrelevant at best and a problem that should really kill itself off faster at worst?

I have to imagine that situation #2 is both a much stiffer challenge and a much stiffer challenge where you can’t rely on a bit of time, and the more or less basically healthy environment, to solve the problem for you even if your additional crisis counselors are largely ineffective(or modestly effective; but no more so than the existing supply of ‘people you would talk to about difficult things’ with the additional community awareness of suicide that exists for a period of time after one).

In my capacity as personally dysfunctional, I’ve acquired a layman-level knowledge of, and general interest in, the literature on efficacy of various sorts of psychotheraputic approaches, drugs, and other treatment approaches; but it is all of the ‘success/failure rate for individual patients sufficiently similar that we can put them into a statistical category and make statements about them’, not “A group-level problem exists, does throwing therapists at it do anything?”

Anyone better informed than I? If we have a literature, what’s the word(references also appreciated, you don’t have to do all my homework for me)? If we don’t, is there an articulated logic about why we use an unvalidated strategy?


What is a “Lakota-based healing program”? I can read that at least 3 different ways, none of them good.


If it were only Pine Ridge it would be a tragedy, but this is happening at many reservations both in the United States and Canada. About 1/4 of all deaths in Nunavut since about 2000 have been suicides.

Before posting I wanted to get a citation for that stat above, it’s worse than I recalled, 27% since 1999. That’s heartbreaking. I’m literally in tears. Geez.


It’s safe to assume you’re not Lakota?

My concern is that all the healing in the world won’t solve the unemployment problem, and that alone can motivate a whole lot of despair.


Is there even a solution to the unemployment problem there? I mean, there are dozens of factors that help keep them down from substandard education to geographic isolation to outright hostility towards capitalism. No one wants to even build permanent commercial buildings because communal land ownership means your rights to it could just disappear with a vote (which is also why there are so many mobile homes on reservations). I hate to be a pessimist, but it seems like an impossible situation.


Yes: a jobs program. Unemployment is one of those problems you actually can solve by throwing money at it. Not permanently, for sure, but when it was tried on a national scale it was very successful. On a local scale it wouldn’t even be very difficult.


I attribute it not only to the poverty of being landlocked in a non-productive unconnected patch of land where the pittance income was revoked if someone ever left the res, but also to the society breaking Native reservation resident federal boarding school system.
These were(might still be) Christian institutions run as prisons with the attendant rape and violence problems.
The administration was a cold blooded racist hell where as far as I could tell the lesson plan was to be sure that native culture could never rise again.
Working as a shift cover firefighter paramedic and in an ER serving a reservation in the inland Pacific Northwest was traumatic enough being a first responder, I could not imagine being oppressed the ways I saw and heard of.
There were wonderful people too, but too often it was like responding to violence from the prison in the series Oz.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.