Hi Auntie Amanda, I was reading about suicide rates in the United States and Native Americans were the highest in rates. As a Caucasian person, would it be acceptable for me to pursue a degree in psychology to help tribes?

Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out. It’s important to know about these topics, and to approach them in a respectful way.

It is true that Native American communities have high rates of suicide. The Center for Disease Control found that from 1999 to 2017 the suicide rate for American Indian and Alaska Native people rose 139%.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to high suicide rates, like colonization and the forced removal from ancestral homelands, the suppression of cultural practices, and the separation of families. Many Native people and communities continue to experience discrimination, racism, and oppression. These all contribute to lack of resources for mental health in Native communities.

As a non-Native person there are ways that you can be an ally to Native communities. You can start by educating yourself and your friends. What Native land do you live on? (If you don’t know find out here: Learn about the true history between the US government and Native tribes. An important part of being an ally is to listen and learn.

Also avoid acting like a “white savior.” Often, when well-intentioned white people want to help non-white communities they assume they know what is best and look down on the people they are trying to help.

Long story short, there are so many ways you can be an ally, including going into the field of psychology, just make sure that you are doing it respectfully and humbly.

Best of luck on your journey,

Auntie Manda

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