The ‘For Walter And Josiah’ Trailer Addresses The Shocking Suicide Epidemic Affecting Montana’s Native American Peoples

Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation, located about an hour northwest of Missoula, is home to a small community of less than 30,000 people. Yet it felt exponentially smaller when, in the span of one year, it lost 22 of its Native members to suicide, including Walter and Josiah, two teenagers and teammates on the local high school basketball team. While it may seem like a very specific story, Jamie Elias’ new documentary For Walter and Josiah makes it clear that this community’s heartbreak is a microcosm of a much larger problem among the country’s Native American populations, and what Elias describes as “an epidemic few are talking about.”

For Walter and Josiah follows both the Flathead Indian Reservation and the boys’ basketball team specifically to record the community’s response to its growing number of deaths by suicide, and explore how the collision of historical trauma and ever-changing modern-day values have contributed to what the trailer cites is a 200 percent increase in suicides.

“The whole filmmaking team was moved by this small community’s resilience,” says Elias of the film. “And the statistics are alarming; Montana has the highest per capita death by suicide rate — over double the national average — and Native Americans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than white Montanans.”

For Walter and Josiah, which has been making the festival rounds, will be released on digital and video on demand on September 16 as part of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The filmmakers will donate a portion of all iTunes and DVD sales back to the Flathead Reservation directly. You can watch the full trailer above. And you can preorder the film via iTunes here.