Don't Believe Everything You Think: Talking About Suicide

It's Mental Health Awareness Month, and we're kicking off a special weeklong series on Northland Morning called "Don't Believe Everything You Think: Talking About Suicide."

TXT4LIFE started right here in the Northland in 2011.
No matter who you are, if you need someone to talk to, text “Life” to 61222.   A trained counselor will respond to your text. Find out more about TXT4LIFE at txt4life.org

The Mental Health Week on KUMD was made possible in part by the Human Development Center, Miller-Dwan Foundation and the St. Luke’s Foundation.

Lisa Johnson
Joseph Yetman Photography LLC

On September 23, 2016, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) announced KUMD’s Lisa Johnson as the winner in the Journalism Award Program for Excellence in Reporting on Suicide in the state of Minnesota.

Photo provided by Arne Vainio

When Arne Vainio set out to write articles on the epidemic of Native youth suicide for Indian Country Today and Indianz.com, he put out a call for names of people who had taken their own lives.

What the Finnish-Ojibwe family medicine practitioner on the Fond du Lac reservation didn't expect was 109 names, including four from one family.

Dr. Arne Vainio sees the effects of poverty, substance abuse, tribes without the resources to provide programs for young people.  Factors as far back as the BIA boarding schools and as current as social media contribute to despair that can sometimes drive Native youth to suicide.

But Vainio is in a unique position to see more than one side of the story:  his father took his own life when Vainio was four years old.


Eleni Pinnow

"Aletha Meyer Pinnow, 31, of Duluth,  died from depression and suicide on Feb. 20, 2016."
That was the first line of Aletha's obituary as it was printed in the paper.  Aletha's older sister joins us this morning to talk about Aletha's death and the decision - to talk honestly about her suicide - that got the entire country talking.

(the full text of Aletha's obituary is reprinted below)


Kevin Hines

When he was 19 years old, Kevin Hines threw himself off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco.  Tormented by a variety of mental illnesses - in his own words - "haphazardly following his treatment plan - but really not" - he decided to end his own life.

SAMHSA/Ad Council

Native American teens experience the highest rate of suicide of any population in the United states, more than double that of the general population, according to the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. And as is so often the case, alcohol factors into almost 70% of those deaths. 

The Mental Health Week on KUMD was made possible in part by the Human Development Center, Miller-Dwan Foundation and the St. Luke’s Foundation.