The total population of the Rosebud Indian Reservation is 20,000. Between October of 2006 and October of 2007, there were 210 attempted suicides here, and twenty-seven of them were successful. Most of those who attempt to take their own lives are adolescents. By comparison, for every 20,000 people in the general United States population during that same time period, there were slightly more than 2 successful suicides. This means that on Rosebud the rate of consummated suicides is roughly thirteen times higher than the national rate, making the suicide rate on Rosebud the highest in the world.
This statistic, which is perhaps the grimmest of all of the statistics regarding life on the reservation, is a contributing factor to and a direct result of a broader socio-economic reality: drug and alcohol abuse on Rosebud is ten times the national rate, the high school drop-out rate is between 35% and 55%, and the unemployment rate is 85%. These interrelated socio-economic problems have caused a pall of despair to descend upon the reservation so that many young people believe that suicide is their only option.
St. Francis Mission has begun to respond to this epidemic with its Suicide Hotline. The hotline provides 24/7 access to trained volunteers who are available to talk with individuals contemplating suicide, loved ones who have noticed suspicious activities, or anyone looking to know the symptoms or find out more information. The hotline’s number is 605-319-1280.
“Suicide Rate Among Tribal Youth Twice National Average,” U.S. Medicine: The Voice of Federal Medicine, 15 September 2010 <http://www.usmedicine.com/articles/suicide-rate-among-tribal-youth-twice-national-average-.html>
 “Suicide in the US: Statistics and Prevention,” National Institute of Mental Health, 14 September 2010 <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml>.
 “US Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Indian Education Programs.” Bureau of Indian Education. Bureau of Indian Affairs. 13 Sept. 2010. <http://www.bie.edu/idc/groups/xbie/documents/text/idc-008158.pdf>; “2009 No Child Left Behind Report Card.” South Dakota Department of Education. South Dakota Department of Education. 13 Sept. 2010. <https://nclb.ddncampus.net/nclb/portal/portal.xsl?&extractID=11>
 Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Testimony of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota On the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act (Washington, D.C., 2008).