Suicide Amongst Native Americans


Tiny - Posted on 08 December 2016

Author: 
Joni Walema

Every year there are hundreds to thousands of suicides that happen across the United States. Some happen on Indian lands that people know as “reservations.” They often go left unreported for traditional reasons. Native Americans struggle daily just for being Native in a white America.

Image Caption: The writer's cousin

Native people are often racially profiled, and sometimes the profile that we Native people as labeled as, “drunken Indians,” are true, especially among those that reside on Indian reservations. I personally think that the Native Americans that struggle with the thoughts of suicide and that actually commit the act often come from backgrounds or family that live in poverty like most Native people today, and come from a background and history of alcoholism and domestic violence.

We as Native people need to reach out to our fellow relatives and let them know that there is hope, they are loved, they are unique, and they are the real heroes. If we all come together as one people, one nation, then I truly think that we can put a stop to suicide amongst our people and become the striving people we once were. It's time we Native American People take a stand and change our ways and lives for the better so we can set forth a more promising future for our children and grandchildren. Suicide is a silent killer, we need to put our foot down and say enough is enough and act on it. So we can save not just Native lives but other lives as well.

I myself struggle with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and have struggled with my own battles contemplating suicide. I now know that I have much more to live for. Just in these past recent weeks, I lost my best cousin/friend/family member to suicide. It's been one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with and help other family members overcome. It's been hard on anyone who knew him. He grew up not having much family support, grew up around alcohol, witnessed drug abuse, witnessed domestic violence. He grew up in poverty.

Finally one day he snapped and messaged me on facebook and said “sis I love you and I'll see you later.” My heart sank, because I knew already what he was going to do. But I was in denial because I didn't want to believe it.

I'm sharing my story hoping that it will somehow help personally, or help save someone's life.

Please don't think there is no way out. Please reach out for help if you're feeling suicidal, because you may think that's it, but have no idea how it may affect those around you. Also, if you know a family member or friend struggling, reach out to them. Let them know you are there and they can depend on you no matter what. Let's stop the silence to break the suicide violence.

Thank you for reading, I hope my thoughts and feelings helped somehow. If any of you readers need someone to talk to I'm here with an open mind, heart and arms. You can contact me on facebook as Joni Walema or email me at walema_cherokee32@yahoo.com. Thank you again and stay strong.

 

I am a Cherokee and Creek Native from Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I have 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys ages 7, 4, 2 and 1. I have a passion for helping others through my own experiences and I love to write. I wanted to take some time to raise awareness on suicide amongst native people. Wado (thank you in Cherokee language)

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