The Native Lakota community in South Dakota is experiencing a rash of suicides among young people. This article suggests that the culture contains not only unemployment, poverty, domestic abuse and alcohol addiction, but sense of despair in the youth. A traditional belief in a “suicide spirit” that looks similar to Slender Man is said to play a roll in the trend as suicide is secretly encouraged among the teens via social media.
Since December, the Pine Ridge reservation, a vast, windswept land of stunning grasslands and dusty plateaus, has been the scene of an unfolding crisis: nine people between the ages of 12 and 24 have committed suicide here.
Several officials with knowledge of the cases said that at least one of the youths who committed suicide was influenced by Slender Man, a tall, faceless creature who appears in storytelling websites, often as a figure who stalks and kills victims. Two girls in a Milwaukee suburb last summer said the character had inspired them in the attempted murder of a classmate.
“They call him the Tall Man spirit,” said Chris Carey, a minister who works with youths, some of them suicidal, on the reservation. “He’s appearing to these kids and telling them to kill themselves.”
I’m not sure this coincides well with Slenderman as we have recently defined him. There are many horror and folklore figures that are tall and slender, faceless and evil. It seems like the traditional tales are getting mixed in with modern memes. None of this causes or helps the epidemic of suicide attempts by the kids. Officials are short on mental health care and are desperate to solve this vexing, heartbreaking problem. Read the entire article at NY Times linked above; it’s worth it.