Last fall, the three-year grant funding the Sweetgrass Project, the only suicide prevention program on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, ran out. The lack of a program on the reservation, where suicide is double the national rate, is troublesome to many parents of tribal youth, including father Clarence Yellow Hawk Sr., reported Keloland.com.
In the early morning hours of May 18, Yellow Hawk lost his 20-year-old Sam Yellow Hawk, an athlete and member of the National Honor Society with a promising future. The young man had gotten into trouble with gangs and drinking, ultimately leading to his decision to take his own life.
“He was a real vibrant, energetic, charismatic young man,” Yellow Hawk told Keloland.com. “Losing programs, such as the Sweetgrass Project, and other suicide prevention programs that are much needed on this reservation, is really detrimental. Because you never know when a child decides that they want to take that responsibility of giving up their life.”
Tribal officials are reportedly searching for a new funding source for a suicide prevention program. In the meantime, the Sam Yellow Hawk memorial fund has been set up at the Wells Fargo bank in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Proceeds of the fund will go toward preventing potential suicides.