Did you know Native teens experience the highest rate of suicide of any population group in the US?
The Oglala Sioux Tribe Child Care agreed that “We have to do something to help these kids want to live.” Just last week they held a Youthstock 2015 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The purpose of this event was to bring awareness to the high rate of Native American teen suicides. This event included two days of free music entertainment, food, physical activities, free haircuts, make-up booths, informational booths about different careers, etc. The important thing about this event is they talked about living, not death or suicide. These teens are understanding death all too well right now, so they thought it was time to show them how to live and enjoy life. NAHA was sent information about this event a few months ago when it was in the beginning stages, asking for any type of help we could offer. We were able to take out several pallets of shampoo, soap, makeup, etc. that they used for giveaways. “We feel that if you feel good about yourself on the outside then it helps you feel good on the inside too.” OST says. Hopefully Youthstock will become an annual event to raise much needed awareness for the major problems occurring on the Reservations.
Native American suicide rates are more than double and Native teen suicide rates are the highest of any population group in the US. One of the four Reservations we serve, Pine Ridge Reservation, includes a county with the highest poverty rate in the US, and some of the worst rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, violence and unemployment. With statistics like that, it makes sense why the kids feel like there is no hope. Federal experts say that some Reservation children experience a form of post-traumatic stress from exposure to family turmoil. The symptoms are comparable to those of military veterans returning from war zones.
Pine Ridge School, which offers kindergarten through high school, is seeking federal money to keep its dormitory open during the weekends so students don’t have to go home, where most of the suicides happen. Most people live in clusters of mobile homes, some so dilapidated that the insulation is visible from the outside. At night, trailers are surrounded by seven or eight rusting cars, not because someone is hosting a party, but because 20 or 25 people live inside. The economic structure on the Reservations does not support the population. The list goes on and on. This is where NAHA comes in to the equation and why it is so important we keep our programs going. These people need our help.
YOUR DONATIONS help us acquire truckloads of Wal-Mart product, food and many other products that are much needed on the Reservations. YOUR DONATIONS helped us acquire and deliver the several pallets of personal care items to the Youthstock 2015. YOUR DONATIONS are very important to us and to the Native Americans living on the poverty stricken Reservations. If you are able to give a donation, any amount will help, please donate AS SOON AS YOU CAN!! Remember, they are 2-3 hours away from anything so they desperately need our help in providing them with food, clothing, heating assistance and basic life necessities.
We also accept gently used clothing, shoes, blankets, toys for all ages (board games, baby dolls, action figures, etc.) and baby items such as diapers, formula, bottles and baby food. You may ship these items to our warehouse at this address: 12085 Quaal Rd. Black Hawk, SD 57718. Don’t put this off; send your monetary donation or clothing donation in today!!!
* Quick weather update- parts of South Dakota received up to 3 feet of snow over the weekend. Some of those parts included the Reservations we serve on a daily basis. This was a major unexpected event from Mother Nature.