Can Music Help Lower Suicide Rates Among Native Americans?

“What does your journey matter if you don’t share it with others?”  That’s what Globe University-Madison East music business student Elliot Christensen’s grandfather used to tell him, and now Elliot is hoping to share his journey and the healing powers of music with others.

Elliot, who is half Dakota, was born on the Lower Sioux reservation in Minnesota, and has personally seen the suicide rates dramatically increase among Native Americans on reservations.

music business, Globe University

Elliot Christensen

Recently, Elliot’s 15-year-old cousin committed suicide.  That’s what sparked Elliot’s idea of a mobile recording studio that would travel the country visiting reservations and allowing Native Americans to record music in a professional setting.

“The suicide rate is three times higher on reservations than any other demographic in the country,” Elliot explained. His hope is that music would work as a creative outlet and allow others to express themselves.

Upon graduation from Globe University in March 2014, Elliot hopes to have funding in place through grants and sponsorships to make his dream a reality.  He has already spoken to song writers, singers and others who are willing to help with his endeavor.

music business, Globe University

Elliot during his radio interview at Wisconsin Public Radio

In his pursuit of grants, Elliot was recently interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio.  He shared information about suicide rates among Native Americans and his goal of reducing those rates through creative healing using a mobile recording studio.

Elliot shared, “I’ve had the ability to have some great instructors and they always say ‘do what’s going to make you happy, follow your dreams’.”

Elliot has taken this advice and is following his dream of helping others.  He said, “If it touches one kid’s life and gives them hope, that’s success for me.”

Since his interview on WPR, Elliot has been contacted by a few people interested in helping with his vision. If you are interested in helping Elliot create a mobile recording studio, you can contact him at feathernotemusic@gmail.com.  He is currently looking for funding, including grants and sponsors.  To learn more about Elliot’s plans, listen to his Wisconsin Public Radio interview below.

(Photos courtesy of Trisha Alt)