Ginger Lerner-Wren: Boost IHS funding to combat youth suicide

Volunteers and children come together to learn and heal at a healing camp on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo by Cindy Giago

Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren links inadequate funding for the Indian Health Service to youth suicide:
The history of the Oglala Lakota tribe is encompassed by a history that is a labyrinth of tragic events between the Sioux and the United States. Ultimately resulting in land exchanges, displacement, cooperation and breached trust (see National Geographic). Pine Ridge was established in 1889 in the Southwest corner of South Dakota. Pine Ridge occupies a significant part of our culture. It was the site of the tragic massacre of Wounded Knee, which led to the groundbreaking novel by Dee Brown in 1970.

Turn the page to 2015, where the outcome of a tumultuous history has left these ancestors of The Oglala Lakota tribe, rich in tradition and spiritual strengths riddled by decades of isolation, extreme poverty, historic trauma, and despair. Depression and the threat of suicide is and has been a major public health crisis for this community. As stated by Yvonne "Tiny" DeCory, a training outreach coordinator for Sweetgrass Suicide Prevention Program, "We're working with families of those who completed suicide, or those who have attempted, or those who are exhibiting ideation. At this point, we're responding very aggressively." According to DeCory, "We've got to stop burying these kids."

According to the American Psychological Association, "Research on mental health (and health disparities) are limited by the small size of the population and heterogeneity. Nevertheless, existing research suggests a disproportionate burden of mental health problems and disorders." By all accounts, the failures to prioritize and adequately fund the Indian Health Service is also rooted in centuries of prejudice and stigma.

Get the Story:
Ginger Lerner-Wren: Standing Up for Pine Ridge: Because Every Child Is Ours (The Huffington Post 4/27)

Also Today:
Enduring The Loss After Suicide (KELO 4/28)
The science of suicide clustering: How silence can increase stigma (Fox News 4/27)
Suicide on the Great Sioux Nation (Turth Out 4/26)

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Lakota Country Times: Families come together to fight suicide (04/20)
WBUR: Reporter discusses youth suicide in Oglala Sioux Tribe (04/15)
Oglala Sioux Tribe struggles to address suicide among its youth (4/13)
Dominique Alan Fenton: Racism at core of Native youth suicide (04/02)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux youth step up to address suicide (03/13)
Regina Brave: Let's learn to forgive ourselves for our pettiness (03/11)
Charles Trimble: A Lakota memorial for victims of youth suicide (03/10)
Ivan Star: Oglala Sioux Tribe suffers with suicide among youth (03/10)
Native Sun News: Professor works on youth suicide prevention (01/08)

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