It was very powerful to watch a group of Teens aged 14-18 from the Seneca Nation who go to Salamanca High School make a recommendation to the Chairwoman of the United Nations Forum.
We in the audience were so powerfully moved that the much of the room rose to stand around the group of teens in support as they talked about their communities being forever changed by kids their age 14-18 committing suicide or making attempts on their lives. In some Indigenous communities the suicide rate can be up to 30 times the national average.
The groups of teens who presented talked about very difficult topics which they see being contributors to youth self-harm and suicide. From the Sami people of the Scandinavian region to North and South America teens talked about the effect of colonization. The loss of their culture, language and climate change, presenting difficulties for indigenous youth to maintain a strong sense of identity.
The lack of empowerment leads to depression. Youth in these areas are also survivors of many types of abuse and bullying. They asked for professional help for those in their communities suffering from Physical and Sexual abuse that lead to feeling that suicide was the only option. The youth made a connection with historical trauma and forced assimilation that youth currently face. The lasting effects from horrific abuses endured by colonization, loss of cultural identity, boarding and residential schools.
This was taken very seriously by the UN Forum who wrote in their draft report about the importance of providing mental health services which are also culturally relevant. The UN also asked to appoint a Special Rapporteur to advocate for Indigenous youth.
All the recommendations can be found here.:
UN Draft Report on the recommendations provided at the UNPFII
Seneca Teen Nathan Abrams speaking with Sara Gepp at the UN after presenting to the forum.
This youth group from Salamanca High School, NY made a difference by providing input to the United Nations which resulted in dispatching the World Health Organization to provide programs to prevent suicide and self-harm and to prioritize dispatching a special rapporteur to advocate for indigenous youth citing the rights which are outlines in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People or UNDRIP.
If you are a young person having a hard time staying motivated, feeling sad or anxious. Experiencing a sudden drop in interest in thing you enjoy, acting out using drugs & alcohol, Changes in sleep schedule or just wanting to withdraw from life. You can get support to become happy again and survive as our indigenous people have survived many difficult challenges. There is help. You matter. Stay here, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
If you are looking for help in your community please contact:
For Youth check out You Matter:
In Canada check out Distress Centres in local areas:
For Families check out Women in Wellbriety: