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Thread: NA youth suicide crisis 'baffling'

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    Super Moderator cougarnurse's Avatar
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    NA youth suicide crisis 'baffling'

    The story says it all. It could be related to any number of things: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110320/...child_suicides

    Chelle Rose Follette fashioned a noose with her pajamas, tying one end to a closet rod and the other around her neck. When her mother entered the bedroom to put away laundry, she found the 13-year-old hanging.

    Ida Follette screamed for her husband, Darrell.

    He lifted his child's body, rushed her to the bed and tried to bring her back.

    "She was so light, she was so light. And I put her down. I said, 'No, Chelle!'"

    But the time had passed for CPR, he said, his voice fading with still raw grief. His wife sat next to him on the couch, sobbing at the retelling.

    Here on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, a spasm of youth suicides had caused alarm and confusion even before Chelle's death.The Follettes had talked with her about other local children who had killed themselves. She had assured her parents that they need not worry about her.

    "She always promised that," said Ida as the half-light of the winter afternoon created shadows in the sparsely furnished home. "She said, 'What's going on with these kids, are they stupid or what?'"

    Earlier that day last April, Chelle and a friend got drunk after school. Police later told her parents that her blood-alcohol content was .217, nearly three times the legal limit.

    Chelle argued with her parents when she came home. They ordered her to lie down, to cool off, to sober up.

    The Follettes say Chelle was a happy teen who had been looking forward to her 14th birthday the following week. They believe she was just trying to scare them after their argument, but that in her intoxicated state it became a horrible accident.

    "I know in my heart she's in heaven," Ida Follette said, burying her face in her hands. "She didn't mean to do it. I know she didn't kill herself."

    But that's how the coroner listed Chelle's death. What he and other authorities examining the suicide outbreak among Native American children cannot easily answer is: Why?

    Suicide is the second-leading cause of death behind unintentional injuries among Indian children and young adults, and is on the rise, according to the Indian Health Service. Native Americans ages 10 to 24 killed themselves at more than twice the rate of similarly aged whites, according to the most recent data available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    On the Fort Peck reservation, five children killed themselves during the 2009-2010 school year at Poplar Middle School — enrollment about 160 — and 20 more of the 7th and 8th graders tried. In the current school year, two young adults have committed suicide, though none at Poplar Middle School.

    Emergency teams from the U.S. Public Health Service descended upon Fort Peck last June after Sioux and Assiniboine leaders declared a crisis. The teams provided counseling and mental health services to assist the overworked counselors and strained resources of the reservation.

    No suicides were recorded during the 90-day deployment of the federal health team. When they packed their bags in October and left a detailed report with a dozen recommendations, the Indian Health Service declared the crisis had passed — a view repeated to The Associated Press last month by IHS behavioral health director Dr. Rose Weahkee.

    But it proved to be only a lull. Two more teenagers killed themselves since October and dozens of other children across the reservation have tried.

    "We're at a loss," said Larry Wetsit, a traditional spiritual leader and former tribal chairman.

  2. #2
    Ricu
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    The article doesn't specifically connect alcohol and/or drug use among school aged children to these suicides but after reading this story, I wonder. I understand that chemical dependency is a major issue for adult native people. Regardless, it deserves immediate attention.

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    I hear more and more cases of suicide everyday, not just among youth/teens, but even older adults. Just lost my father after he committed suicide June of last year and more people died of the same case after him. Until now i'm still asking the question why...

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    Super Moderator cougarnurse's Avatar
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    'Why' is a question that keeps on being asked, years after the fact.

    Even with a note, I wonder if that truly answers things.

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    This is a complex problem with roots situated deeply planted in core values and those differ somewhat from one population to another placing the onus on the movers and shakers within those populations. In very generalized other words, a cry for help will only be understood by those who are equipped to listen. Stress and coping issues can only be understood by those who experience them. I realize that across population and cultural boundaries, there are many similar issues of concern but there are just as many if not more, specific issues to be reconciled within subculture sets. In this example, the circumstances of Native Americans are best understood by members of the culture therefore, the most effective solutions will come from within, but this is not to say that people outside of the culture cannot understand or be of help to those who are seeking it.

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    Super Moderator cougarnurse's Avatar
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    Thank you, Ricu. You made an excellent point there at the end of your post about understanding the Native American culture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cougarnurse View Post
    'Why' is a question that keeps on being asked, years after the fact.

    Even with a note, I wonder if that truly answers things.
    I completely agree! What I can't get over until now is the feeling of guilt, I'm still thinking if there's only something I did to prevent him from committing suicide!As a nurse, I did nothing to save my own father, I feel useless!!!

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    Super Moderator cougarnurse's Avatar
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    I believe it is known as 'survivor's guilt"

    If 'things' get too bad, have you ever considered some sort of therapy?

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    Thanks,,I am not yet considering that so far...hopefully I can get over in time!It's only been almost 7 mos,,thanks for the idea!!

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    Super Moderator cougarnurse's Avatar
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    We aren't substitutes for professional help, but we will stand with you.....

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