Written By Sikowis (Christine Nobiss)
Suicide Rates for Indigenous Peoples in the US have risen significantly since 1999. This rate surpasses all other groups in the country with an increase of 139% for Indigenous women and 71% for Indigenous men. According to the National Indian Council on Aging, “Native communities experience higher rates of suicide compared to all other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., with suicide being the eighth leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives across all ages. For Native youth ages 10 to 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death; and the Native youth suicide rate is 2.5 times higher than the overall national average, making these rates the highest across all ethnic and racial groups.”
We have faced genocide and colonization for centuries and have only begun to legally gain the same rights and safeties as settler society. However, legal safety does not erase institutionalized white supremacy, daily racial and gendered oppression, nor the ongoing historical trauma in our communities. These are also factors in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives crisis and why suicide should be counted in the statistics.
Our relatives are not committing suicide in a vacuum--they are doing it for all the same reasons that they go missing or are murdered.