Iowa's Harkin Troubled By 'National Shame' Behind Rosebud Suicide Epidemic
Thursday (06/14) at 18:26 PM
When asked about a Native American youth suicide epidemic at the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said the story demands attention and action.
“We have a serious obligation to a lot of our native Americans we have not fulfilled for a long time,” Harkin said. “And we just keep ignoring it much to our national shame, I think.”
Iowa Independent published a commentary on the matter Wednesday and asked Harkin his thoughts on the situation during a conference call today.
"These are the kind of the stories that people ought to know about so we can get some action, get something done about it,” Harkin said. “We need better health-care on our reservations.”
He added, “We ought to be talking about it.”
Harkin said there is widespread attention about alcoholism on reservations and growing concerns about obesity.
“We just can’t continue to go like this,” Harkin said.
Iowa Independent made calls to a federally recognized reservation in Iowa. Officials with the Sac and Fox Tribal Office in Tama did not return calls for comment.
But Native Americans living in Iowa were included in a recent study that showed high suicide rates among Great Plains tribes.
The Press and Dakotan newspaper in Yankton, S.D., this year reported that a “study conducted by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control among Native Americans revealed the suicide rate for Native Americans is 1.5 times greater than the rate for all Americans.
“For male Native Americans ages 15-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
“Also the Aberdeen study area — which included all of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa — was among the nation’s highest suicide rate regions for Native Americans, with 25 to 30 suicides per 100,000 — more than twice the national average.”
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