New Mexico In Depth won 1st place and 2nd place awards at the New Mexico Press Women Association’s (NMPW) annual awards banquet, held in Albuquerque this past weekend.
NMID’s Choosing Life series, which examined Native American youth suicide, took 1st place in the special series category, the second top honor for the Choosing Life series in as many weeks. It won a Public Service Award in last week’s regional Top of the Rockies contest.
The series, reported and written by Laura Paskus and Bryant Furlow and featuring photojournalistic work of Adria Malcolm and Mark Holm, encompassed three long-form stories (here, here, here), and a Q&A with a representative of the New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition to learn how to talk about suicide and loss. Another story examined how not talking about suicide and loss can be deadly.
In addition, the series showcased important findings, including:
Government databases have differing totals for Native American youth suicides, meaning there aren’t precise numbers tracking this issue.
New Mexico in Depth’s analysis suggested something else, too: both databases underestimate the true number of Native lives lost to suicide. And without better data collection, no one can know the true extent of the problem – and young Native people across New Mexico will continue to die.
Many factors contribute to the apparent incompleteness of official statistics, including jurisdictional problems. For example, investigators from the New Mexico Office of Medical Investigator lack jurisdiction on federal or sovereign tribal lands and can only investigate reservation deaths when tribal officials invite them to do so.
As we said last week, this series wouldn’t have happened without all the people who shared their stories and perspectives, some of which were heart-wrenching. The loss of sisters, brothers, grandmothers, parents takes a significant toll, emotionally and physically, on individuals and on communities.
We know this. And we want to acknowledge again the special type of courage needed to become vulnerable with strangers and talk about pain and loss.
If you haven’t read the series, please, make time.
To quote from Laura’s Twitter feed last week, “Sad to say the series @BryantFurlow & I reported last year is still all too relevant. Hope you’ll read it.”
In addition to that win in the NMPW contest, Laura scored a second-place award in Enterprise Reporting for New Mexico In Depth’s climate project At the Precipice: New Mexico’s Changing Climate. This project is an ongoing series covering the impacts of climate change in New Mexico.