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Youth suicides prompt emergency declaration on Pine Ridge
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Youth suicides prompt emergency declaration on Pine Ridge

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A recent rash of suicides of young members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe has prompted officials on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to declare a state of emergency.

Officials on the reservation have recently given worrisome numbers of reported deaths by suicide. Tribal Councilman Michael Her Many Horses said on Friday, "I believe there have been five since late December."

At the anti-racism rally at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on Tuesday, former OST president Bryan Brewer announced to a crowd of several hundred that, "We have another little girl, a seventh-grader, that committed suicide last night in Pine Ridge, the second one in a week.”

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Her Many Horses said counselors are going into schools to try to prevent the suicides. Teachers and parents are getting instructions as to what signs to look for in a child who may be contemplating suicide, he said.

Her Many Horses said there have been many suicide attempts that have been thwarted. "This is not the first time this has happened," Her Many Horses said.

A check of the Journal archives uncovered this passage from a story published on Dec. 17, 2009:

"A string of recent suicides and suicide attempts on Pine Ridge caused OST President Theresa Two Bulls to declare a state of emergency Dec. 10. In November, the OST ambulance service responded to 17 suicides or attempts. In one 12-month period during 2008-09, there were 97 suicide response calls."

Officials were unavailable on Friday to provide more information about what other steps toward prevention of suicide the state of emergency will include.

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