(gentle piano music) - (speaking Indigenous language) Shelby Rowe.
Hello, I am Shelby Rowe.
I work in suicide prevention.
I'm a suicide attempt survivor.
I'm a mother of three grown sons.
Feel really blessed to have the career that I have, that I am now a leading national expert in suicide prevention and one of the leading advocates for lived experience in my field.
And then so finding better ways to help our young indigenous youth who were in crisis.
I had my own suicidal crisis in 2010.
My first husband, he was killed at an accidental shooting when my kids were 18 months old and six weeks old and I was just 19.
All of the trauma surrounding that time in my life led to a diagnosis of PTSD.
And then in 2010, I went through a fairly traumatic sudden divorce and for some reason, my brain connected what was happening to what had happened with the sudden death of my first husband.
I went through a whole lot of therapy, group counseling, individual counseling, and I was not well.
Being Indigenous, connecting with my family, with my history, with my tribe, has really helped strengthen my wellness.
The more that I connect with the culture, connect with learning the stories of my people, the more mentally well that I am.
And for so many of us Indigenous people, we're all trying to find our way home, back to our cultures, back to our families, because we weren't allowed to know our traditions, our cultures.
So when we look at suicide rates in Indigenous people in the US, it is different.
There are some stark differences in our rates compared to that of the general population, especially for our white European Americans.
For Indigenous people, especially for our young boys, anyone from 10 to 34, the suicide rates are alarmingly high, especially in our reservation-based areas.
Through oppression with the reservation system, the men were not allowed to hunt.
The men were not allowed to protect.
And the worst of all is that the men were not even allowed to pray and it's carried on until today, so we have a lot of young men needing help reconnecting and finding their purpose.
First of all, we have to be humble.
Suicide affects all Americans.
For white European Americans and other ethnicities in our country, suicide rates tend to incrementally go up with age, but for Indigenous people, our rates drop lower than white European Americans and ours continue to drop down throughout the lifespan.
Mainstream US society has not figured it out.
We have a default that the Western knowledge-based system is the best and our typical American culture, it's me first and then everyone else.
And then in our tribes, it's our tribe first.
It's our family, it's our elders and that our purpose is to serve our families, our communities.
And when you're looking at things through that lens, your life has greater purpose.
We've got a lot of work to do, but I see a lot to be hopeful about because things are so much better today than they were a decade ago, than they were five years ago, than they were even two years ago.
So we're making great strides.
We just need more time, more resources, and more space to live our ways.