Death Toll for Hopelessness Rises

Since March 2015, 33 children and young adults have committed suicide on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, according to Debbie Wills, founder of SWAMP-IN (Saints With A Mission Purpose – Indian Nations) in St. Charles, Missouri. The death toll for hopelessness is likely to rise with even more children attempting suicide since then. “The suicide rate among the Lakota is staggering,” shares Debbie. “Some have attempted several times to kill themselves. Sadly, they’re determined.”

Bob Prue (Lakota from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe) recently teamed up with Debbie to take part in a servant event on the reservation. Bob is the newest Native recruit in Lutheran Indian Ministries. Currently, he serves the Oneida Reservation in Oneida, Wisconsin, as he prepares for Native ministry.

“The Lakota are my people,” Bob said. “It’s heart-wrenching what is going on with suicides. The devil is telling them lies, so we went to share God’s Truth.”

Bob and his 15-year-old son, Noah, joined 30 volunteers from Zion Lutheran–Harvester in St. Charles to build a garage-size shed and a fence for the youth organization on the reservation. The team also provided vacation Bible school with as many as 28 kids in attendance. Volunteers also took part in a prayer walk around the youth center, and each night they gathered for nightly adult Bible studies where Bob shared the hope he has in Christ with his own people.

“It was a humbling and exhilarating experience for me to serve others for the sake of the Gospel. It was the same way when I went with my own church group in Oneida to Minto, Alaska, this summer, too. I definitely want to go back to both communities.”

“It’s refreshing to meet Bob because he is so grateful for his salvation,” Debbie said. When she heard the Lakota woman ask, “How can we know what hope is when we don’t know what hope is?” she thought of the Lutheran hymn she has known since childhood, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less.”

“As it is for Bob and for us all, Jesus is the one true hope for the Lakota. God is allowing us to see their need.” Where He shows a need, God also provides a way.

Tragically, suicide is prevalent among many Native people groups. We request your fervent prayers.

Pictured are Bob Prue, Noah Prue and Debbie Wills with SWAMP-IN volunteers and Lakota residents during a servant event at Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

Bob Prue with SWAMP-In volunteers
Bob Prue with SWAMP-In volunteers
Bob Prue SWAMP-IN VBS
Bob Prue SWAMP-IN VBS
SWAMP-IN Volunteers
SWAMP-IN Volunteers
Bob Prue with new friend from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, Eagle Butte, South Dakota
Bob Prue with new friend from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, Eagle Butte, South Dakota
Bob Prue with friends
Bob Prue with friends
Bob-Prue and friends
Bob-Prue and friends

"... When ev'ry earthly prop gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. ..."(My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less, v.3)

Download a PDF of this article here.