The federal government is providing guidance to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes to help the community deal with a rash of youth suicides, according to an article published by GreatFallsTribune.com on Oct. 26.
The guidance is in the form of a 200-page report put together by commissioned officers with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The report examines social problems on the Fort Peck Reservation, located in Montana, and provides recommendations to the community.
Last month, the tribal council declared a state of emergency after four teenagers and preteens committed suicide. This summer, two more killed themselves. In the last school year, another 20 attempted to commit suicide.
The report, drawn from visits to the reservation by HHS team members, focuses on suicides committed between January and July, with information gathered from families, the Indian Health Service and local hospitals, according to the article.
The report says that socio-economic factors, like alcohol and drug abuse, may have played a major role in the suicide cluster, but a “lack of effective parenting skills, lack of appropriate role models, or just the imitating of the examples set by others” may have had a part too. There are also issues related to access to appropriate care.
Among the recommendations made in the report: establishing a safe house; building upon local resources already in place; hiring a behavioral health program director for IHS; continuing to improve access to care; overhauling the tribes' treatment center; hiring a suicide prevention coordinator; appointing a leadership board; saturating the community with prevention skills and training; and improving access to parenting skill classes.