Sitting Bull College Helps Community Deal with Teen Suicides

Aug 15th, 1998 | By | Category: 10-1: Teaching Math and Science, Tribal College News

The Standing Rock Indian Reservation has been devastated by a series of teen suicides and attempted suicides in recent months. Tribal officials and mental health professionals have been attempting to deal with the problem internally on the reservation, which is located in south central North Dakota and north central South Dakota. In doing so, they have called upon the local tribal college, Sitting Bull College, to assist.

Sitting Bull College has co-sponsored a series of workshops on suicide and depression issues. Dr. Morteza Sarlak, an English and psychology professor at the college, has been coordinating the workshops. The workshops have utilized a variety of volunteer mental health professionals from all over the United States. ”We’ve had a tremendous community response to the efforts we have been making to date,” says Sarlak. “It’s been heartening to see the community working together with each other and with the wonderful resources who have volunteered to help us.”

In response to a related and more long-term problem, the college also sponsored its third annual FAS/FAE workshop for local teachers. The workshop, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/ Fetal Alcohol Effect: Strategies for Professionals” was offered the last week of June. The workshop provided an overview of FAS/FAE, a discussion of the causes and characteristics of children labeled FAS/FAE, and the effects of such disorders on educational programs. Participants developed educational strategies to be used in the classroom as well as inclusion classrooms. Diane Malbin, MSW, a nationally known lecturer and counselor, taught the course.

“We’re really pleased with the turnout we’ve had over the years,” says workshop coordinator Kathy Froelich. “The response has been very positive, and we’ve been able to educate so many key people about FAS and FAE through this workshop.” For more information, contact Cheryl Red Eagle at (701) 854-3861 (Ext. 209).

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