Links to stories and video by Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, SD on the tragic suicide epidemic involving Lakota youth and young adults
At least 27 teens & young adults living in and around the Rosebud Reservation have killed themselves in recent years – plus 400 others have attempted suicide – surrounded by poverty, lack of jobs and a sense of hopelessness
Marie Wilcox, (upper right) who lost her son, Stoney Larvie, to suicide more than two years ago, says his spirit visited her on the night he died. “He put his arms around me and said, ‘Don’t do that. Don’t blame anyone.’ ” Wilcox says that not understanding why her son chose suicide is the most difficult thing to deal with. (Photo by Lara Neel / Argus Leader)
Angel Wilson (lower right) visits her son’s grave on her property near Mission in south-central South Dakota on a recent summer day. Clay Wilson committed suicide at age 19 in January 2007, several months after two of his friends killed themselves. (Lara Neel / Argus Leader)
Lino Spotted Elk (lower left) visits the grave of his son, Lino “JJ” Spotted Elk Jr. The younger Spotted Elk committed suicide while in jail on a warrant for a speeding ticket. “I try to figure out what could I have done,” the elder Spotted Elk says. “You can beat yourself to death with those kinds of questions.” (Lara Neel / Argus Leader)
Lino Spotted Elk Sr. (upper left) sits in a St. Francis cemetery, reflecting on his son’s life. Spotted Elk said images and attitudes from MTV videos of rappers and gangsta music are powerful influences on reservation young people. (Lara Neel / Argus Leader)
Tillie Black Bear, (center photos) the executive director of the White Buffalo Calf Woman’s Society, tells a northern Michigan audience about the teen suicide crisis facing her reservation back home in South Dakota. Black Bear was a keynote speaker on September 23, 2008 at the Northern Michigan University 2008 United Conference in Marquette, MI
(Tillie Black Bear photos by Greg Peterson)
The youth suicide problem on and around the Lakota Rosebud Reservation is finally get the recognition it deserves.
Kudos to reporter Steve Young, photographer Lara Neel and any other members of the Argus Leader staff and management involved with this important story.
Lakota community leader Tillie Black Bear and others have worked tirelessly to bring this issue to the attention of many.
Black Bear and a few other brave native women founded the White Buffalo Calf Woman’s Society 31 years ago this October – the first domestic violence shelter on an Native American reservation.
The WBCWS has done its best to provide counselors and alternatives – and held a suicide summit earlier this summer.
The non-profit Turtle Island Project in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Munising) and others have been trying to get South Dakota media to pay attention for over a year.
On Sept. 21, 2008, the Argus Leader newspaper did a thought-provoking, great but sad series of articles (and related videos) on the problem. Some 27 Rosebud members have killed themselves and over 400 youths have attempted suicide in the past few years.
Except for some American Indian media, only a handful of the white news media (including KOTA-TV, South Dakota Public Broadcasting and the Lutheran Magazine) have done much coverage of the issue that caused Rosebud Leaders to declare a state of emergency in the spring of 2007.
Numerous American Indian news outlets and websites helped the Turtle Island Project spread the word last fall. (That media includes Indian Country Today, Native Times, Native America Calling, News from Indian Country, Yahoo Indigenous Peoples Forum, Red Nation Society, Pow Wow TV, Native Radio, Mostly Water, and others we don’t mean to leave out).
Thanks also to the Custer Lutheran Fellowship Church in Custer, SD.
Here are links to videos/Argus Leader newspaper stories:
Why are young Lakota killing themselves?
South Dakota reservation’s suicide rate said to be among highest in world
Despite stable home, teen chose death
Mother struggles to understand reasons behind son’s tragic act
Links to 7 videos by Argus Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls, SD on Rosebud Suicides:
For more info:
Javier H. Alegree
Public Relations Specialist
Media and Education
White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc.
PO Box 227
To see KOTA-TV news story, videos and other info on Turtle Island Project and its founders Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard and Rev. Dr. George Cairns: