OST Sweet Grass Program. Photo from Facebook
Published November 25, 2015
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION— The Sweet Grass Suicide Prevention Project that provides much needed suicide prevention services on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has gained a one-year extension.
Native News Online learned Wednesday, November 25, 2015 that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) informed the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the extension in a letter dated, Tuesday, November 24, 2015.
“The work of the program will continue for least another year,” stated Mike Her Many Horses, Oglala Sioux Tribal councilor representing Wounded Knee District, told Native News Online on Wednesday. “The continuation was granted yesterday.”
Last week it was announced the Sweetgrass Prevention program would cease operations on December 31, 2015 when the current SAMHSA grant concludes. The Oglala Sioux Tribe received notification that the grant application was “poorly written” and would not be refunded for another grant cycle. The denied grant application was for $3.6 million and a five-year cycle.
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.
Yesterday SAMHSA issued this statement to Native News Online in response to an inquiry about Sweet Grass’ denied grant application:
“Prevention of suicide in Indian Country is a priority for SAMHSA and its Office of Tribal Affairs and Policy. We will continue to work with our Federal and Tribal partners to support mental health promotion and substance use prevention activities for Native youth and their families, enhance early detection of mental and substance use disorders among Native youth, and increase referral to treatment.”
The Sweet Grass Suicide Prevention Project has some $200,000 of unspent funds that the Tribe is asking the government to extend into next year.
Details of the extension were not known at press time, but as the story develops, Native News Online will report on the grant continuation and any actions to turn the grant into longer than a one-year extension.