Congress is considering a request from leaders of an Indian tribe, which has seen six of its younger members kill themselves in recent months, for $600,000 to hire doctors, improve programs for youths and plan an alcoholic treatment center.
"There is a great deal of soul-searching going on among our people," Charles Murphy, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, told a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday. "What is it that causes our children so much pain that they want to end their lives?"Six youths have killed themselves since August, and at least 40 others have attempted suicide. The problem has been mainly in McLaughlin, S.D., largest town on the Standing Rock reservation, which straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. About 125 youths are being monitored by health officials.
The tribe recently bought an old movie theater in McLaughlin for $10,000 to convert into a recreation center, but Murphy said the tribe lacks money for other proposed initiatives. It operates two casinos that bring in an estimated $6 million a year, but that revenue is used for other needs, he said.
"I'm astounded at the number of suicides you've had," said Rep. Joe Skeen, R-N.M. "We'll see what we can do to help you."