Crownpoint, N.M. is a tough place to start a business. In part, because aspiring entrepreneurs confront a tangle of challenges.
Last week New Mexico In Depth published a series about a crisis happening in plain sight– the frequency with which Native American youth in New Mexico are dying by their own hands.
The rate is more than twice as high as in other ethnicities or populations — a stunning statistic.
Given the significance and seriousness of the issue, the subject might as well not exist for many New Mexicans. New Mexico media seldom reports on it for various reasons, including many outlets’ struggle to do more with less in an era of downsizing. More importantly, the subject seems to rarely break through the haze of competing priorities each year in Santa Fe as the state’s 112 lawmakers convene to deliberate on the state’s most pressing issues.
Judging from reader response, however, our series touched a nerve.
If I learned one thing from the young people I’ve met while reporting this project, it’s that my daughter needs me to listen without judgment, forsaking the temptation to give advice or prattle on about my own childhood experiences.
The New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition’s Laura Harrison has some tips for talking about suicide and loss.
Coloradas Mangas works to prevent suicide in Mescalero. Instead of asking for more money to help kids choose life, he asks people to care, to help, to let our children know we’re here for them.
Studies show that talking about suicidal thoughts reduces the risk of a young person acting on those thoughts.
This taboo of speaking about death is common among New Mexico’s tribal communities. Some people in and around Thoreau are pushing to change that after as many as 15 young people died by suicide in 2010.
While it might not seem like it from reading headlines day-in, day-out, the heart of journalism beats with hope. It is with that hope that NMID offers this series in a spirit of both humility and gratitude.
New Mexico’s Native American youth die by suicide at a rate twice as high as that seen among people of other ethnicities. And our analysis suggests that official databases underestimate the true number of lives lost.
New Mexico In Depth helped produce an episode of Native America Calling on how the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s policies and procedures work – and sometimes, don’t – in Indian Country. Click on the headline to listen.