Native American suicide rates remain the highest among any racial or ethnic group in the United States, with some communities experiencing rates 10 times the national average. Lawmakers and ministry workers alike find the prevalence of suicide among young people especially troubling.
Brad Hutchcraft from On Eagles’ Wings, a division of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, has spent many years working with struggling Native American young people to bring the hope of Jesus. “We have these Native young people share with their peers that they’ve been the suicide attempts and they’ve gone down these roads and the only thing that they’ve found that brings hope and healing is Jesus,” he says.
A growing problem
In 2019, lawmakers proposed yet another bill (bills also proposed in 2000, 2015, 2017, and 2018) to help prevent suicide in Native American communities following concern at the alarming rates. Hutchcraft explains that, “We’ve been hearing this for years, and to see the government actually revisiting this and seeing this is still not only an issue but is a growing issue that we need to be able to help provide more resources towards, that’s encouraging to see.”
Although the bill hasn’t passed yet, it has bipartisan support. Lawmakers hope that additional funding could help address prevalent contributing factors such as a lack of mental health resources, widespread poverty, physical abuse, and higher rates of unemployment and substance abuse. The bill would facilitate collaboration between local or state governments and Native American communities to provide effective resources for combating these factors.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Rachel Pfeiffer
CALL TO ACTION
- Pray for the OEW teams as they share the hope of Christ on the reservations.
- Pray for open hearts in areas so full of despair.
- Ask God to reveal Himself to the young people in such hopeless circumstances.