HUMBOLDT COUNTY (KIEM) – A report from the Center Disease Control shows there have been a significant spike in suicides since World War II and the numbers has been only been growing.
According to the CDC, in California alone from 1999 to 2016 there has been almost a 15% spike in suicides.
“Suicide rates for Native Americans in general are much higher,” said Marlon Sherman, a Professor of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University.
“About 150 to 250% higher and in some cases 300% but Native American women, yes, it’s been going up for the last ten or fifteen years.”
But what contributes to these alarming numbers?
“They feel hopeless,” says Sherman, “at some point, they may turn to alcohol or drugs or they just maybe depressed.”
In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act passed. But it didn’t fully protect Native American women who’ve suffered trauma.
“The Violence Against Women Act didn’t protect Native women on tribal reservations, majority of those assaults against Native women on those reservations were by non-Indian men,” said Sherman.
The Indian Law Resources Center says, more than 4 in 5 Native American women have experienced violence and more than 1 in 2 women have experienced sexual violence.
“Native women for instance are the most likely to be raped or assaulted during their lifetimes,” said Sherman.
The numbers have been growing.
“If one native youth takes their life, chances are there will be others to follow closely behind,” says Sherman.
But in order to combat the rising numbers it all starts at teaching the youth at young age about their culture and history.
“We try to teach them that they are the equals of anybody in the world and that there are solutions to these laws it will just take a while,” said Sherman.