Indian tribes 'losing kids every day' to suicide



Emmy May has lost five relatives and friends to suicide. (MPR photo/Dan Gunderson)spacer.gif

Experts say teen suicide is an epidemic on Indian reservations across the country. Some of the highest teen suicide rates are on Indian reservations in the Upper Midwest. The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a hearing Wednesday on teen suicide. The story of one Red Lake teen reflects reality for many in Indian Country.

Red Lake, Minn. — "My name is Emmy May and I am 16 years old. I'm writing my story of how I recovered from depression."

Story here:


230 Posts

Thunderwolf, is it that the reservation are such depressed area's or do you think it is a biochemical thing amongst the Native Americans?

I know for Asians it can be a matter of honor.

I find this very sad.

Thunderwolf, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 6,621 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatric, Behavioral Health. Has 32 years experience.

I think these kids face a lot more than non NAI kids...they have much on their plate. I believe environment plays much more of a role here than a primary biochemical one.

Read my other thread: Fighting Alcohol and Substance Abuse among American Indian and Alaskan Native Youth

Editorial Team / Admin


18 Articles; 30,666 Posts

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.

Yes, the environment does come into play with these youth. Here is a list of a few reasons for the high rate of suicide:

1. Forced geographical location

2. Exploitation of food

3. Poor education

4. High unemployment

5. Unhealthy lifestyles

6. Access to lethal methods

7. School peer pressure conflicts with NAI values

An overwhelming majority of Indian youth feel their hopes and dreams are hopelessly thwarted often times due to harsh discipline.


955 Posts

What a horrible tragedy. Something needs to be done- I was shocked when I read that 288 teenagers in this area attempted suicide in the last year!!! I'm a quarter Cherokee myself, and I've struggled with depression my whole adult life. I wonder if AI genetics are predisposed...

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