Pine Ridge Reservation’s Suicide Prevention Outreach Program Loses Federal Grant

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation neighborhood. Native News Onine Photo

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation neighborhood. Native News Onine Photo by Levi Rickert

The loss of prevention funds will only intensify the crisis on Pine Ridge

Published November 22, 2015

PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATON—Just when a much needed suicide prevention outreach program is needed the most on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the federal government is pulling the plug on the renewal of a grant to fund the program.

The funds that originate from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are being cut because of a “poorly written” grant submission for renewal of an existing grant.

The rejected grant application asked for $3.6 million for the next five years.

Current SAMHSA funding provides services through the Sweetgrass Prevention program with an annual budget of $480,000. The program allows for outreach workers to work with those who have attempted suicide and families of those who actually died as the result of suicide. The program operates a hotline to respond to emergency suicide calls 24 hours per day.

More than 20 people killed themselves during the current year on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where living conditions rival third-world poverty. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is located in South Dakota and is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The Tribe has declared a state of emergency due to the high number of suicides, particularly among tribal youth.

The Sweetgrass Prevention program has some $200,000 of unspent funds that the Tribe is asking the government to extend into next year.

If there is no intervention by federal officials, the Sweetgrass Prevention program will lose funding on December 31, 2015.



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