Leaders on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation recently issued a state of emergency after four youth suicides in two weeks. Authorities reported 177 suicide attempts among 14- to 32-year olds between January and mid-August, and nine deaths by suicide.
Between 2017 and 2019, the Oglala Sioux tribe saw 458 suicide attempts and four deaths by suicide. In 2015, then-President Theresa Two Bulls declared a state of emergency following 17 suicides or attempts in a single month.
“[Suicide] seems more prevalent right now. I don’t have hard data on it, but it seems like an uptick of the enemy’s attacks,” says Brad Hutchcraft of On Eagles’ Wings.
“People need to know so that God’s people can pray. Not just ‘help them more’ prayers, but [a] spiritual warfare type of praying so that we can see the stronghold of suicide broken and true hope breakthrough.”
Suicide is a chronic ailment among Native youth throughout the U.S. According to the Aspen Institute, between 11- and 20-percent of Native young people attempt suicide each year. The suicide rate among Native youth is 2.5-times higher than the national average. Read our past coverage here.
Hutchcraft describes various factors keeping the Native suicide rate so high: “There’s poverty, there’s abuse, there’s a system that has long overlooked their needs,” he says.
“Now, there’s a pandemic that makes them feel even more trapped. Lockdowns are continuing on many reservations. They’re ‘locked off’ from help; they’re ‘locked in’ with the pain, and that pain can often be another person they have to share this space with.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth
CALL TO ACTION
- Pray for open doors and new opportunities for Native believers to share the hope they have found in Christ.
- September is National Suicide Awareness Month. Pray believers become more aware of suicide’s prevalence in Native America, and that they will stand in the gap for Native communities.