Hi Uncle. I am watching the FX on Hulu’s series Reservation Dogs. The latest episode focused on suicide. This is bringing up a lot of issues for me and my friends. Where can I get information or help I need too?

Hi, Thanks for asking!

Suicide is the intentional act to end one’s life. Many tribal customs forbid or limit talking about suicide, death and dying as it is the belief that talking about it will make it happened. In order to help others, it’s important to talk about suicide and suicide prevention in a respectful and honorable way.

Suicide among American Indians and Alaska Natives has been rising since 2003 and rates are 3.5 times higher than those among other racial and ethnic groups [1]. Suicide is the 8th leading cause across all ages and the second leading cause of death among Native youth ages 10 to 24 [2].

There is a lot that can contribute to suicide like poverty, mental health conditions, substance use, as well as forced removal from family to residential schools and the resulting historical trauma. Tribal communities face many issues such as discrimination, racism and oppression. Lack of access to quality care, infrastructure and other barriers can also contribute.

So when a series like Reservation Dogs depict these issues, conversations can start about suicide as people begin to experience an emotional or psychological reaction from the show. If this happens, it important is to know what to do and how to talk about it.

When you, a friend or family member starts to talk about suicide, remember to stay calm, don’t judge them and just listen. Ask the person if they are thinking of suicide and help them get help. Remember, people who are in emotional pain may not reach out on their own. Reassure the person that there is help. Stay with them and call or text any of the resources below:

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). The service is free, confidential and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Texting services are available through the Crisis Text Line by texting NATIVE to 741741 to be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7.
  • Crisis services for LGBTQ2S are available from the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or by texting START to 678678
  • The Trans Lifelineis a hotline that supports people who are Trans and in crisis by providing services within the Trans community. A trained Crisis Counselor can be reached at 877-565-8860.

If the person doesn’t want to call or text, ask them to let you take them to someone who will help, like a family member, other loved one, counselor, spiritual advisor, or teacher. Do not keep the suicidal thoughts a secret for the person, reach out for help in order to help them. Remember to keep yourself out of danger, but if can and the person has a gun or other item they may use for suicide, take them out of that setting or try to get them away from the item.

Suicide is scary but remember. . . suicide is preventable and help is available. Thank you for reaching out and giving us the opportunity to talk about this issue openly, honestly, respectfully and honorably.



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