Blogger Writes About Village Suicide Rates
Young Native males have highest suicide rate in U.S.
ANCHORAGE - The suicide rate among young Alaska Native men is the highest not just in the state, but in the country. For Carole Bender, it’s more than a statistic, it’s a call to action.
When Bender started her blog, The Modern Native, on January 10, she was grieving the loss of her uncle, who had just committed suicide the same day.
“He loved movies, and was always listening to music,” said Bender, describing her uncle Bruce.
Bender turned online for support.
“At first I was writing about it on my Facebook, and then I was venting about how people treated him, and then I was like why don't we take his story and do something better with it.”
Within hours of her first blog post, her site had over 500 hits and multiple messages – some supportive, others critical.
Bender has picked what some may consider a taboo topic. She is exploring the high suicide rates in the villages.
According to state officials, Alaska Native men are killing themselves at rates twice that of anyone else.
There is a reason for that, said Bender.
“In the village it’s really easy to pick one person, and target them and then everyone just follows you.”
She said her 38-year-old uncle was bullied.
“At first it feels good to be around family for the holidays. However, the village is small and the people haven't changed,” said Bender, reciting the first part of the post “Suicide and Bullying Part 2.” “The sneers and insults become even more frequent.”
In Kotlik, Bender said, he had nowhere to run.
“Now you are laid to rest for an eternity in the very place you spent your life trying and wishing to escape,” said Bender, reading the final portion of her latest blog post. She is wiping tears from her eyes. “Next to the very people who pushed you to this point.”
She hopes her uncle's suicide will get people talking, especially about taboo topics.