Suicide Alert

On a number of Native American reservations the suicide rate is unusually high. That is especially true on the Rosebud Reservation in south central South Dakota. In 2007—at the height of an ongoing suicide epidemic—the number of deaths by suicide on Rosebud was roughly 13 times the national average, making it the highest in the world. To help address this crisis, St. Francis Mission, a Jesuit ministry on this Lakota reservation, has started a suicide and crisis hotline. For Geraldine Provencial, its director, the work has a strong personal motivation: “I lost a sister to suicide, a brother to suicide and my grandson’s mother to suicide, which has resulted in my taking care of my grandson today, who is 11 years old. He is my inspiration.” Not having had support when she herself had to deal with these suicides is what spurs Provencial today to reach out to others on the reservation who are experiencing these difficulties.

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