Why did a child commit suicide by train?

Clicking on the image above will take you to One Spirit and information regarding an ongoing effort to support a safe house for Lakota children.

There does not seem to be any delicate way to broach this topic. So right up front, this attempt to raise some awareness is not intended as an insult or affront to the people most concerned. There is no intention to pick at open wounds. This is reality–it’s not nice, it’s not comfortable, it’s not a feel good topic.  But the only way anyone might get any assistance is by meeting the issues head on. Have to face reality in order to deal with it. So–in spite all my brainstorming writing efforts I’ve yet to come up with an opening besides this:  Native American children have the HIGHEST rates of suicide in the entire USA–and possibly the world.

 Why does a 10 year old commit suicide? Why did a group of Native American children aged 8 to 16 carry out a suicide pact of killing themselves? Why would 20 Indian children at one school attempt suicide in one year? Why did 8 children commit suicide in the last two months on Pine Ridge?

Perhaps the bottom line is a lack of hope due to all the longstanding economic and cultural-social problems that have been rampant in Native American communities/reservations ever since the 1880s. Yes, the 1880s.  The legacy of genocide, forced assimilation–Indian Commissioner T.J. Morgan once wrote that Indians “Must submit or die.” — boarding schools, and cultural destruction has deep historical roots. 

News today from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana–six children took their lives this year one by gun, four by hanging–one by train.  For more visit the Indianz.com news coverage link->


From Native American Times–>


The following  selection of videos serve only to introduce the topic.  Posting other videos and links to news coverage and other information  is encouraged.   This issue is not the sole provence of the Pine Ridge Reservation–child suicide is rampant across Indian Country and Alaska.





  1. slpmartin said,

    November 11, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Such things are beyond words for me…a child committing suicide is difficutl for me to grasp…the removal of so much hope from one’s life is heart breaking.

    • November 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm

      I agree, Charles–it is hard to grasp such a choice by a child. But this is a leading cause of death in Indian communities. It’s the legacy of an Indian policy that has had long reaching consequences. Thank you for engaging in recognitiion of this reality.

  2. artistatexit0 said,

    November 13, 2010 at 1:00 am

    As a parent, I freeze at the thought of this. No mother or father should outlive their children.

  3. Kelly Hay said,

    November 15, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    My heart breaks while reading this.

    I checked out the One Spirit website and I plan on discussing a family sponsorship with my husband tonight when he gets home from work. Thank you for passing on this information. If it were not for this post, I might have never known that One Spirit existed.

    • November 15, 2010 at 11:11 pm

      Hi Kelly. Thanks for discovering One Spirit and considering offering some assistance. Much appreciate your kind thoughts.

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