User uShare Login | Register
Login
Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.


43° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options

RADAR LOCATION

TEMPERATURE LOCATION

Share your Photos, Videos, and Stories on uShare! Click here to get started.

KELOLAND.com | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!

 

Pine Ridge Loses Suicide Prevention Program

June 13, 2012, 10:14 PM by Derek Olson

Pine Ridge Loses Suicide Prevention Program
PINE RIDGE, SD -

It's a problem everywhere, but on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, people are committing suicide at more than twice the national rate.

But even with that problem at epidemic levels, the tribe's only suicide prevention program has lost its funding.

"Sam was a 20-year-old man, my son.  He was a real vibrant, energetic, charismatic young man.  He meant a lot to all of us," father Clarence Yellow Hawk Sr. said.

A talented young athlete and member of the National Honor Society, Sam Yellow Hawk had fallen into trouble with gangs and had been drinking when he decided to end his life less than a month ago in the early morning hours of Friday, May 18.

"I never imagined taking my son down with a electrical cord wrapped around his neck.  That's the last thing that I ever expected and that I would ever want for anybody in this day and age.  But I hear it happens all the time," Yellow Hawk said.

Sam is buried at the family plot in No Flesh.  His is just another case of a young life cut short by suicide.

The number of people taking their own lives on the reservation peaked in 2009 with nine deaths.

"I feel like these youths, these young men and women that's taken their life should've been here today and could've been our future leaders," Pine Ridge resident Wilma Thin Elk said.

That's when the tribe stepped in.  A grant from Indian Health Services helped develop the Sweetgrass Project.  Last year, the number of suicides in Pine Ridge dropped to four.

"The rate isn't as high as it used to be, and that's all due to education and awareness and outreach activities that the Sweetgrass Project has been doing," former Sweetgrass Project coordinator Carole Crazy Thunder-O'Rourke said.

One of the project's primary missions was to take the stigma out of reaching out for help.

"A lot of the youth didn't want to tell anybody that they had ideations, that they wanted to kill themselves, that they wanted to hurt themselves or something.  But the message got out that it's okay to tell," Crazy Thunder-O'Rourke said.

"Some of these youth, they just keep things to themselves and all of a sudden they're not here and it's really sad," Thin Elk said.

"If I knew Sam needed help, if I had a hint that he was crying for it, I would've done everything in my power to help him," Yellow Hawk said.

Unfortunately, the three-year grant funding the Sweetgrass Project expired, disbanding the program last fall. It's something that's not sitting well with many on the reservation.

"Sweetgrass Program is and was needed here really bad; it's needed," Thin Elk said.

"Losing programs, such as the Sweetgrass Project, and other suicide prevention programs that are much needed on this reservation, is really detrimental.  Because you never know when a child decides that they want to take that responsibility of giving up their life," Yellow Hawk said.

Yellow Hawk's pain is shared by many on the reservation where nearly everybody has been touched by suicide in some way.

"And I know that I'm not the only one grieving.  But I want to give my prayers and support to everyone out there today who has the same pain that I do," Yellow Hawk said.

Officials say that the search is underway for a new funding source for a suicide prevention program.

The Sam Yellow Hawk memorial fund has been set up at the Wells Fargo bank in Hot Springs.  The proceeds of which will be used to help prevent future suicides.

Previous Story

Next Story


Comments







 
Find Local Businesses on KELO Pages!

View featured stories

You may also like

Trooper Steen's Road To Recovery

4/14/2014 10:11 PM

In uniform and behind the wheel, South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Andrew Steen has returned to the job he left 18 months ago after he was seriously...

Full Story | Watch
Ziolkowski Fights Cancer & Reflects On Crazy Horse Legacy

4/10/2014 9:58 PM

Ruth Ziolkowski has led operations at the Crazy Horse Memorial since 1982, but now the 87-year-old says she only has a short time to live as she battl...

Full Story | Watch
Inside KELOLAND: What's Next For Sioux Falls?

4/13/2014 2:30 PM

Following decades of debate, the city of Sioux Falls is one step closer to an indoor pool. But there's still a lot of work that needs to be done b...

Full Story | Watch
Ice Storm Anniversary

4/11/2014 10:00 PM

One year ago, Sioux Falls experienced one of the worst natural disasters it's ever seen.  A devastating ice storm hit the city and it took mo...

Full Story | Watch
North Rapid Residents Fight Community's Bad Rap

4/9/2014 10:04 PM

Hard news happens in North Rapid City.  It doesn't get much harder than the 2011 shootout that left two city police officers dead, a third se...

Full Story | Watch


Events

 
 
KELOLAND TV: 501 S. Phillips Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Phone: 605.336.1100 · Breaking News call: 1-800-888-5356
Web Site Design and Custom Programming By: Lawrence & Schiller© 2014 KELO-TV -- KELOLAND.COM -- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED