There is a suicide epidemic among children and teens at the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota and the only suicide prevention outreach program has closed due to lack of funding.
The Pine Ridge Reservation is a very isolated place, it takes over and hour for emergency personnel to reach an often-unspecified location. Coaching people not to panic when they are in a suicidal situation is important, because they need to stay with the individual until help arrives. This is where the cultural value (Woohitika) bravery, finding the courage within oneself to stay calm during this critical time. Most people on the Pine Ridge Reservation who express ideation are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Which creates additional stress, therefore it is important to get others involved in the situation.
This is where collaboration is important, (Tiwahe) Nuclear family, (Tiospaye) Extended family, (Ospaye) Community members, (Chanksa yuha) Law enforcement, and Tribal Programs need to be mobilized and prepared for suicidal situations. The Sweet Grass Suicide Prevention Project is working to develop these collaborations in two of the nine districts on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The purpose is to work with partner agencies to establish a system for tracking all ideations, attempts and completions. The final goal is to establish a Referral Committee made up of past and present volunteers to create a referral and follow up plan for people who have attempted suicide. So they don’t fall through the cracks in the different Tribal, State and Federal systems.