Native Cry Outreach

Earlier this year, I learned that my grandmother had been keeping a family secret. Her mother, my great-grandmother, was full Cherokee but she and my great-grandfather had hidden this fact to better fit into the world that they lived in at the time. This information fascinated me, not so much because I felt a burning connection to the Cherokee Nation, but because I was curious how being identified as non-white could have such a stigma attached to it.

I have spent the last few months looking more into the modern history of Native Americans and specifically, the situations that are facing the tribes today. On a daily basis I review statistics on depression and suicide in the U.S. and abroad and they are, in a word, heartbreaking. This is why I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw these stats as they apply to Native youth are exponentially worse. Native American and Alaska Native commit suicide at a higher rate than any other ethnic group in the United States. The suicide rate for Native youth aged 15-24 is 3.3 times higher than the national average and young people make up 40% of all suicides on tribal lands.

After giving it some thought, I realized that because of Project Happiness

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Happiness Lost: When Kids Take Their Lives

From the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-taran/teen-suicide_b_1381062.html

I visit a lot of schools and communities with a documentary I produced called Project Happiness. The idea is to remind people of the happiness that we were born with and how to re-access it, no matter what the external circumstances. I am grateful for the profound appreciation coming from audiences; yet the reason troubles me to the core. Why in so many cities, across the country, am I hearing again and again of kids taking their lives?

What is the feeling of utter hopelessness and isolation that prompts such an action? If you would ask most parents across the globe what they want most for their children, it is to be happy. And most people want to live a meaningful life. How did we get from there to here?

The statistics are down right shocking.

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