High Suicide Rates on Native American Reserves

by hunter_c on April 25, 2016 - 2:42pm

On March 9th, 2016 the Washington Post published an article by Sari Horwitz entitled, “The Hard Lives - and High Suicide Rate - of Native American Children on Reservations” which provided some insight on the alarming rates of suicide in the aboriginal community. On the Gila River Indian reservation in Arizona, eight teens have killed themselves over the past year and there are several sights, such as a particular tree where one girl hung herself, where they are advised to stay away from because of superstitious reasons. Tyler Owens, a young man who lives on the reserve, was reported saying that they’re “not really open to conversation about suicide” and that the aftermath is “just, like, left alone.” However, the issue of suicide is becoming harder to ignore due to the fact that young Native Americans are three times more likely to end their life. There are a cocktail of reasons that I have mentioned in my previous posts such as poverty, sexual abuse, substance abuse, mental illness, etc. Theresa M. Pouley, the chief judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court in Washington says that, “The circumstances are absolutely dire for Indian children.” She was also quoted saying that Native children graduate high school at a rate of 17% lower than the national average, and are 2.3% more likely to experience trauma in their life. Fortunately, the Justice Department has recently implemented a “national task force” to examine the excessive abuse these children face, and they are also examining these suicides and are considering them as an “epidemic.”

The research that I have been doing is directly linked to news articles like this one. The horrific consequences from a lifelong battle with abuse and traumatic exemplify that there is a critical issue within these communities that needs to be addressed.


“New power” is defined by Jeremy Hiemans as “open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.” The way I interpret this definition is that in this day and age, everyone around the world is more connected to each other than ever. If this were 1950, I would not have been able to research the suicide crisis in Arizona, never mind even hear about it, unless I lived there. But because this is 2016, I could research it, write about it, and I could even help out if I wanted to. I could donate money, I could get into contact with Theresa M. Pouley and ask how I could help out, thousands of miles away. Because of all these technological tools around us, mankind can help each other out continents away, which is something that is very recent. And with these tools, this “power”, we should use it to help other people, make people aware, and use it to make a difference. I have mentioned several times that the aboriginal community is somewhat “disconnected” with the rest of the continent in the sense that people don’t really know what’s going in, and people haven’t the slightest clue about the extensive damage that is being done to these people. We should be using this new power that we have available to us to create a conversation and to eliminate the disconnection between the aboriginal community and everyone else. People like Tyler Owens can come on the internet and share their story, and I encourage everyone else like him to do the same so this issue is no longer ignored.




Horwitz, Sari. "The Hard Lives - and High Suicide Rate - of Native American Children on Reservations." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2014. Web.

Hiemans, Jeremy, and Henry Timms. "Understanding "New Power"" Harvard Business Review. Dec. 2014. Web.


Nice text, keep up the good work.