Saturday, December 7, 2019

Suicide Among Native Americans 

By Native News Online Staff - December 07, 2019 at 12:00AM

Published December 7, 2019

We live in an era where people’s mental health is not at its best peak. Working hours, social media, society pressure are making people less active and so busy that they cannot properly manage their anxiety and stress levels. Depression is now a worldwide problem and scientists are trying to make people understand their condition.

Finding treatment might seem like the perfect thing to do, but many depressed people refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem or they are ashamed of it.

Since 1999, the suicide rate in the United States has risen up to 33 percent. Today, the Native American population is about two percent of the United States’ population and since 1999 the suicide rate among Native Americans has risen up to 139% among women and 77 percent among men. That is a lot, especially when looking at women.

But why is this happening? Why are Native American women more at risk of killing themselves than men, and why Native Americans, in general, have a higher risk of dying because of this? The answers may not surprise you.

What do the demographics say?

As you probably know, Native American communities are encountered in the Western states and only one-third of them live in reservations. The other two-thirds live in rural and urban areas. That’s almost 4 million Americans who can say that they have Native American and Alaska Native inheritance.

Compared to the statistics made on the US population, there are twice as many people among Native American communities living in poverty and their rate of getting employed is twice lower than the white Americans’.

These demographic and social aspects are often a cause of developing depression among Native American individuals. In fact, they are a cause of depression and anxiety among all individuals. Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide all over the world and its relevance is rising.

The concept of mental health

Mental health is viewed differently by all individuals, but Native Americans have different beliefs than Americans in general. When confronted with physical and mental health issues, they have a more spiritual approach.

Emotional distress is something that can cause physical symptoms as well, but people in Native American communities prefer looking for the help of a spiritual healer than to get medical help, and that is why some serious problems are often diagnosed too late or are not diagnosed at all.

People with depression and substance abuse among these communities are more likely to seek alternative remedies for their problems and, even if these alternatives can often be a solution for affections that are not that serious, they can not cure deep depression at a clinical level.

Rural and isolated communities

In the isolated Native American communities, we encounter two main problems: limited access to medical care and the lack of mental health awareness.

Access to health facilities is limited, let alone to devices and other items such as those found on, which could improve the quality of seniors’ lives. Sometimes, there is no medical doctor that can ensure the basic health care levels.

Additionally, the Indian Health Services have hospitals and clinics in reservations, but there the number of people living in these reservations is getting lower as the years pass.

Because of unemployment, 33 percent of the Native American population lack health insurance compared to 11 percent of the whites and more than half of these communities rely on the Indian Health Service.

Final thoughts

Although recognizing that suicide among Native Americans communities is on the rise, it is not enough. We have to know the reasons so that we can address them wisely.

First of all, it is important to identify our loved ones’ problems and understand that we have to support them to get through any mental health issues that they are struggling with. Second, we have to keep track of our thoughts and see if we, ourselves, might have burdens and sad thoughts that might make our lives miserable.

And last, but not least, we have to be able to count on the authorities’ measures and public policies that have a great role in keeping these communities safe. It’s a matter of national health and, even if the Native American communities are only 2 percent of the US population, every single individual matters and we should work together and help each other overcome any struggles.

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