A suicide crisis unfolding on the Pine Ridge Reservation

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A suicide crisis has been unfolding on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
From December of last year up until March, 9 young people ranging between the ages of 10 and 24 have taken their lives.
Back in February, Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele declared a state of emergency on the reservation.
Both nationally and here in South Dakota, statistics show that suicide is the second leading cause of death behind accidents for youth ages 10 to 24.
Stephanie Schweitzer Dixon with the Front Porch Coalition says the problem seems to be getting worse.
More young people are making statements saying they want to die, or do not care about living.
She says people must always take those statements seriously and begin to show more concern.

Stephanie Schweitzer Dixon, Executive Director of the Front Porch Coalition said, "You have to ask, what's going on, how can I help, are you ok, is there anything I can do to help you, and people who have made a suicide attempt will always say, they don't want somebody to fix their problems, you don't have to fix someone's problem, you just need to be there to listen, you just need to be there as a support and you just need to be there and ask them, how can I help you, what can I do for you right now, and that's the biggest thing that can help someone."

Angie Sam is with the Sweetgrass Project that deals with the issue of suicide on the Pine Ridge Reservation, saying they are experiencing a cluster of suicides right now.
While she does not know what the cause of the increase is, she says the reservation is responding the best they can.

Amber Sam, Project Director of the Sweetgrass Project said, "We've done some trainings with all of the students, all the staff at all of the 13 schools on the reservation, just identifying what are the warning signs of suicide, what are the resources available for them to, if they're concerned about a student or friend. We've done some parent trainings as well, community trainings, you know I really have to acknowledge our community, they have really stepped up saying hey, how can we help, what can we do."

You can learn more about the problem of teen suicide in the area on The Focus Show with Jack Caudill, Sunday night at ten, right after the news, on Black Hills FOX.