OST Sweet Grass


Through the OST Suicide Prevention Initiative we plan to target all nine (9) District’s on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation:

  1. We will engage community members, tribal youth, youth serving organizations and tribal leaders to help identify youth at risk for suicide.

  2. We will track referrals of young people to mental health agencies for evaluation and treatment. We will also utilize Lakota traditional healers for spiritual help.

  3. We will expand trainings (e.g. QPR) to 22 reservation wide schools and community members as well as increasing the cultural understanding and competency of Lakota traditions.

  4. We will also incorporate suicide prevention education into Oglala Lakota College courses offerings as an elective for students.

  5. Improve the reporting of suicide attempts and completions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

  6. Strengthen processes for referral and follow-up of suicide ideations and attempts.

  7. Increase number of teachers, social workers and other professionals who are trained in youth suicide prevention and early identification and response.

:::: STATISTICS ::::

Statistics from the Indian Health Service

Pine Ridge Service Unit

Over a ten (10) year period (1999-2009) of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation there were:

  1.  675 Suicidal ideations.

  2.  1132 Suicide Attempts.

  3.  34 Suicide Completions.

  4.  In an average year there were approximately 200   Suicidal Ideations, attempts and completions.

  5.  The average age of a suicidal person was 21 years.

  6.  Young males are most likely to have more suicidal ideations compared to young females.

  7.  In 2008 alone, the highest occurrence of suicidal ideations was in the Pine Ridge Village.

  8.  History of substance abuse/dependence was the common contributing factor of suicidal ideations.

  9.  History of mental illness was the second contributing factor.


In collaboration with various agencies, including the Indian Health Service, the OST Suicide Prevention team developed the Sweetgrass Project. The OST Health Administration will implement the three (3) year grant. The Sweetgrass Project staff will develop and implement a comprehensive and sustainable program to address the identified needs of our communities and consists of four (4) primary goals.


  1. 1.Increase community awareness, support, and coordination for Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention.

  2. 2.Strengthen capacity and resources for providing screening, early identification, referral, and follow-up of at-risk youth.

  3. 3.Reduce the number of OST youth, ages 14-24, who attempt or complete suicide.

  4. 4.Contribute to local, regional, and national knowledge and effective strategies for Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention.