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Wisconsin Watch: Suicide among Native Americans remains high

"Fifteen years after Schuyler Webster took his own life at age 14, his mother still sees him everywhere.

He’s in her front yard “Schuyler Tree,” planted by his Menominee Tribal School eighth-grade class. He’s in her grandson, also named Schuyler, now nearing 14 himself. He’s even in her dreams.

“When I dream about him now I can see him at every age that he would have been, every four or five years the changes in him. And I think that’s the power of a mother,” says Evora “Tinker” Fish Webster, a lifelong resident of the Menominee Indian Reservation in northeast Wisconsin.

By the time Schuyler ended his own life, his impulsive nature was getting him in trouble at school and home. Unknown to his mother, the young man had started “huffing” glue and talked to his friends about suicide. When a relative called the police over Schuyler’s glue-sniffing, the panicked teen shot himself.

Less than two weeks after Schuyler’s death on June 11, 1995, his friend Warren Smith across the street in Neopit took his own life, quickly followed by the suicide of fellow Menominee Ruth Tourtillott, family members confirm. In less than three months, three tribal members had died by suicide.

Such a spate of needless deaths may seem unusual, but high rates of suicide have been identified among Native Americans in the United States since the 1970s."

Get the Story:
A Tribal Tragedy: High Native American suicide rates persist (Wisconsin Watch 11/21)