Native Cry Outreach Alliance, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention within the Native American community, has produced a gripping new public service announcement (PSA) aimed at Natives who are considering taking their own lives. With tight close-ups of real people who have lost loved ones to suicide, comments from professionals and educators hoping to reverse the high rates of suicide within Native communities, and an overall message of support, this PSA may help save precious lives throughout Indian Country.
Native Cry has produced the PSA, available to view on YouTube, even though the organization is not scheduled to be fully operational until September 10 of this year. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Founded by Quechan tribal member Rayna Madero, Native Cry’s two building facility is located in downtown Yuma, Arizona and will primarily serve the Quechan and Cocopah, but the organization’s reach is much wider because of the PSA. According to its website, this family-centered organization also plans to serve other tribal members in the region—and from other areas of Indian Country through exchange programs.
And anyone in Indian Country can support Tribal One’s efforts. The organization has started an online campaign that urges Congress to pass the Native American Suicide Prevention Act. The Change.org petition states that “[Native Cry is] not alone; most reservations are developing similar types of organizations to stop their children from dying also.”
Unfortunately, this petition has garnered less than 1,000 signatures. With a goal of 5,000 signatures, Native Cry—and all Natives in need of help with suicide prevention—needs your help. To petition Congress and help pass the bill that would implement early suicide intervention and prevention strategies throughout Indian Country, support Native Cry. Take a moment, watch the PSA, and sign the petition.
Suicide Rates in Indian Country
Suicide rates in Indian Country are staggering, and it’s time to take action to prevent Native youth from making life-ending decisions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the years from 1979-1992, the suicide rate among Native Americans living on or near reservations was 1.5 times higher than U.S. national rates. The American southwest, Alaska, and the northern Rockies and Plains states had the highest rates of both suicide and homicide in Indian Country during that period of time. Firearms were used in almost 60 percent of those suicides. Those disparities in suicide rates are still in place today. Statistics from the CDC confirm that, from 2005 to 2009, the highest rate of suicide for people age 10 and older was among Native Americans.
In 2005, the U.S. Surgeon General testified before The Indian Affairs Committee in the United States Senate that “For 5- to 14- year-olds, the suicide rate is 2.6 times higher than the national average. And there is an even greater disparity in the later teenage years and into young adulthood. The suicide rate for American Indian/Alaska Native youth aged 15 to 24 is 3.3 times higher than the national average. In fact, young people aged 15-24 make up 40 percent of all suicides in Indian Country. Suicides are just the tip of the pyramid in examining suicidal behavior among American Indian youth. There are many more nonfatal injuries due to suicidal behavior than there are suicides. It is estimated that there are 13 nonfatal events for every fatality.”
Native Cry will begin offering service in 2013.