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Wac'in Yeya: The Hope Project

The suicide rate among Indigenous youth in the Northern Plains is at an alarming rate. Wac'in Yeya is a pilot research grant in partnership with the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing to conduct focus groups with Lakota youth and develop creative projects about what gives them hope. A primary issue related to suicide is hopelessness, however; there is a lack of research on what instills hope in our Indigenous youth. The data from this project will be used to:

  • Develop suicide prevention programs
  • Provide hope to Lakota Youth
  • Determine culturally specific causes of hopefulness

This study has three components.

  1. Conduct focus groups with youth about what provides them with hope.
  2. The participating youth, along with other local youths and adult leaders, will develop photo voice projects to portray their ideas from the focus groups including culturally relevant representations of visual, music, dance, and other factors.
  3. A community meeting where the youth present their projects to an invited group of family, peers, and community members.

The concepts generated by the youth will be utilized to design suicide prevention projects that instill hope in Lakota youth in an area where the suicide rate has been at an epidemic rate over the past year. By having youth generate the concepts of hope and provide input on what would be hopeful for them, it is expected that these programs will have a greater impact for the community.

This project is funded by the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health at Sanford Research. The grant is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.