Teenagers living at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have the highest suicide rate in the nation. Until now, the only help came from local efforts. Now authors of "The Chronicles of Ara", Steve Hillard and Joel Eisenberg are helping to fight to stop suicide for teens in the area. The authors have created a new ongoing concern that will inspire the building of arts centers in distressed economic areas.
Pine Ridge is one of the largest reservations in the country. Alcoholism among residents is a continuing problem among those living on the reservation. This dates back to the founding of the reservation in the late 1880s.
Nationally teen suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people 15 to 24 years of age. This number is growing, especially in poorer communities including Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
One of the best weapons to combat suicide is the introduction of creative endeavors. Studies have shown that art helps students in a number of additional ways. Having creative resources improves grades, standardized testing, and lower drop out rates. Teaching creative expression to students lowers stress and helps to reduce suicide events.
Working with students is not new for Eisenberg, a former special education teacher in Los Angeles. He speaks to writers and filmmakers throughout the country about artistic pursuits. At Pine Ridge Eisenberg will be speaking to thousands of students and share his ideas on the arts, including music, dance, writing, movies and even videogames.
"The Chronicles of Ara" is a fantasy novel, with sequels planned. The novel will be produced as an eight-hour mini series for Ovation TV. The authors are committed to helping the teens at Pine Ridge fight stress and depression, the leading causes of suicide.