Trigger/Content Warning: this story contains the subject of suicide.
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Sterlin Harjo’s FX on Hulu Series “Reservation Dogs” has made big news in Indian Country since it’s August 9 premiere.
Many issues of oppression concerning Native Americans have been addressed during the series through the lens of those who have first-hand experience.
Many can relate to the story of the four young kids growing up in rural Oklahoma with nothing to do but cause mayhem in the neighborhood due to the influence of the surroundings.
It may be easy for someone to relate to Bear, Elora, Willie Jack or Cheese .
There are so many questions when it comes to the absence of the fifth friend, Daniel. Each character had expressed the impact their individual friendship with Daniel had made on their lives.
Eventually, in episode seven, “California Dreamin’,” Daniel’s tragic death is revealed to be caused by suicide.
For those who have seen the episode, know the strong depictions of the scene and for those who have not, fair warning because it may cause emotional reactions as a result of the depictions and upon finding out after seven episodes what had taken Daniel’s life.
According to the Center for Disease Control, suicidal thoughts and ideations can be triggered by (but are not linked too) the holidays.
Thoughts of loneliness and hopelessness during times of gathering can lead to anxiety and depression as well.
Native communities experience higher rates of suicide compared to all other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., with suicide being the eighth leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives across all ages, according to National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA). For Natives youth ages 10-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
CDC data (updated as of May 2021) suggest that 33.6 percent of Native American men died of suicide in 2018, and 11.1 percent of Native American women. Compared to the 28.6 percent of non-Hispanic white men and 8.0 percent of women.
As tribal communities are aware of the role that suicide plays in communities and the impact amongst Native youth, the depictions and storytelling in this episode open up a conversation to be had between youth and/or those who struggle with suicidal ideations and their advocates and supporters.
Devery Jacobs (known for her role as Elora Danan Postoak) wrote in TIME, “How Reservation Dogs is opening up a crucial conversation about suicide in Indigenous Communities.” https://time.com/6097570/reservation-dogs-suicide-indigenous-communities/.
She mentioned how the show approaches the topic with “care and directness.”
‘“…when I was filming the seventh episode of Reservation Dogs—have I had an out-of-body experience or cried out involuntarily,’ Jacobs wrote. ‘This time, my body took over. I was shaking, adrenaline coursing through my body as all my nightmares of losing loved ones were unearthed to haunt me anew.”’
According the article, Jacobs said filming this particular episode was the most challenging role in her career thus far.
She claimed suicide among Native Americans isn’t “merely a storyline” but it is something that has affected her own “rez” in Cananda.
Refer to Mvskoke Media’s latest article regarding Suicide Prevention Month that took place during the month of September: https://www.mvskokemedia.com/mcn-behavioral-health-promotes-suicide-awareness/.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an emotional or mental health crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
The free service is open 24/7 and is confidential.
Citizens can also text NATIVE or CREEK to 741741 to be immediately connected to a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7.
LGBTQ citizens who are struggling are encouraged to use the Trevor Project Hotline at: 1-866-488-7386 also open 24/7 or text START to 678678.
MCN Behavioral Health can be reached at: 918-758-1910.