FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Native American Youth Suicides and the Sequester

Statistics concerning Native American death rates as compared to the rest of the United States population deserve much more attention than they receive.

In 2010, Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, compiled a report entitled “The Tragedy of Native American Youth Suicide.” The report echoes a 2008 study by the Indian Health Service (IHS) in stating: “The rate of suicide for American Indian and Alaska Natives is far higher than that of any other ethnic group in the United States—70% higher than the rate for the general population of the United States. American Indian and Alaska Native youth are among the hardest hit. They have the highest rate of suicide for males and females, ages 10 to 24, of any racial group.”

Additionally, the report declares that on certain reservations, the incidence of youth suicide was found to be 10 times the national average. These statistics are by no means recent developments, with studies by the Centers for Disease Control showing similar numbers from between 1989 and 1998. Dorgan’s report lists a few risk factors specific to Native American populations living on reservations, including rampant alcohol and drug abuse, high sexual assault rates, low socioeconomic status, etc.

The IHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) took note of alarming Native American suicide rates in the early 2000s and have worked together to create targeted suicide prevention programs. The IHS established a Suicide Prevention Initiative in 2003. SAMHSA bestowed funding to the IHS in 2004 & 2005 specifically to address youth suicides and provided Garrett Lee Smith grants to programs aimed at suicide prevention within high risk populations.

Among other efforts, the IHS provides suicide prevention training for professionals and community stakeholders, funds intervention programs for adolescents who have attempted suicide, and provides peer counseling programs. SAMHSA’s Tribal Affairs Program focuses on Native American youth suicide prevention, and attempts to partner with federal organizations, nonprofit organizations, and behavioral health professionals in curbing suicide rates. These seem to be steps in the right direction, for according to Dorgan, “funding for youth suicide prevention must be a priority for both Congress and the Indian Health Service.”

Unfortunately, however, the federal government recently enacted dramatic budget cuts to SAMHSA and the IHS. Congressman Henry Waxman stated SAMHSA was set to lose over $200 million of funds in 2013 due to the sequester. The budget cut, Waxman states, will affect every single SAMHSA program. The IHS itself will also incur $220 million in sequestration cuts in 2013, which is troublesome for many additional reasons unrelated to suicides.

Talk of budget sequestration can be, at times, incredibly vague. A discussion of what programs are impacted and how the government spends its money are necessary to understand how to evolve as a nation.

Note: Upon leaving the United States Senate, Byron L. Dorgan founded the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute. CNAY intends to improve the well-being of Native youth, paying special attention to suicide prevention. Learn more at www.cnay.org.

Ramona Taheri holds a Master’s in Political Science from Columbia University.

Sources:

Byron L. Dorgan. “The Tragedy of Native American Youth Suicide.” Psychological Services, Vol 7(3), Aug 2010, 213-218. doi: 10.1037/a0020461.

Centers for Disease Control. “Atlas of Injury Mortality” http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/american_indian_injury_atlas/11d-allmaps-suicide.htm.

Henry Waxman’s full statement to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations- http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Statement-Waxman-OI-SAMHSA-Mentally-Ill-Services-2013-5-22.pdf.

Indian Health Services. http://www.ihs.gov.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://www.samhsa.gov.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 25, 2020
Michael Hudson
The Democrats’ Quandary: In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give
Paul Street
The “Liberal” Media’s Propaganda War on Bernie Sanders
Sheldon Richman
The Non-Intervention Principle
Nicholas Levis
The Real Meaning of Red Scare 3.0
John Feffer
Cleaning Up Trump’s Global Mess
David Swanson
How Are We Going to Pay for Saving Trillions of Dollars?
Ralph Nader
Three Major News Stories That Need To Be Exposed
John Eskow
What Will You Do If the Democrats Steal It from Sanders?
Dean Baker
What If Buttigieg Said That He Doesn’t Accept the “Fashionable” View That Climate Change is a Problem?
Jack Rasmus
The Nevada Caucus and the Desperation of Democrat Elites
Howard Lisnoff
The Powerful Are Going After Jane Fonda Again
Binoy Kampmark
Viral Losses: Australian Universities, Coronavirus and Greed
John W. Whitehead
Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn Schools into Prisons
Marshall Sahlins
David Brooks, Public Intellectual
February 24, 2020
Stephen Corry
New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind
M. K. Bhadrakumar
How India’s Modi is Playing on Trump’s Ego to His Advantage
Jennifer Matsui
Tycoon Battle-Bots Battle Bernie
Robert Fisk
There’s Little Chance for Change in Lebanon, Except for More Suffering
Rob Wallace
Connecting the Coronavirus to Agriculture
Bill Spence
Burning the Future: the Growing Anger of Young Australians
Eleanor Eagan
As the Primary Race Heats Up, Candidates Forget Principled Campaign Finance Stands
Binoy Kampmark
The Priorities of General Motors: Ditching Holden
George Wuerthner
Trojan Horse Timber Sales on the Bitterroot
Rick Meis
Public Lands “Collaboration” is Lousy Management
David Swanson
Bloomberg Has Spent Enough to Give a Nickel to Every Person Whose Life He’s Ever Damaged
Peter Cohen
What Tomorrow May Bring: Politics of the People
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon?
Weekend Edition
February 21, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Election Con 2020: Exposing Trump’s Deception on the Opioid Epidemic
Joshua Frank
Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies
Paul Street
More Real-Time Reflections from Your Friendly South Loop Marxist
Jonathan Latham
Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory
Ramzy Baroud
‘The Donald Trump I know’: Abbas’ UN Speech and the Breakdown of Palestinian Politics
Martha Rosenberg
A Trump Sentence Commutation Attorneys Generals Liked
Ted Rall
Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label
Louis Proyect
Encountering Malcolm X
Kathleen Wallace
The Debate Question That Really Mattered
Jonathan Cook
UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements was Dead on Arrival
George Wuerthner
‘Extremists,’ Not Collaborators, Have Kept Wilderness Whole
Colin Todhunter
Apocalypse Now! Insects, Pesticide and a Public Health Crisis  
Stephen Reyna
A Paradoxical Colonel: He Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About, Because He Knows What He is Talking About.
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A New Solar Power Deal From California
Richard Moser
One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way
Laiken Jordahl
Trump’s Wall is Destroying the Environment We Worked to Protect
Walden Bello
Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail