It is believed that a frightening urban legend named Walking Sam or the tall man has pushed over ten teenagers to commit suicide, however, it is still unknown that how can a mythological figure possibly drive people to take such drastic steps.
The Native American, Lakota tribe believes that the “Walking Sam” or “Tall Man” is a suicide spirit and it appears as a 7-foot tall and lean man who has long arms.
He does have eyes, but he lacks a mouth and a nose.
Whenever he lifts his arms, souls of both Lakota men and women can be seen attached to his arms.
The series of suicides took place in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota sub-tribe of Sioux Native Americans.
The tribe believes that the strange and frightening figure whispers suicidal urges into people’s ears.
It is believed that the job of Walking Sam is to collect the souls of the people and it targets lonely, depressed, and, sad adolescents.
Although the Native American tribe refers to him as the Tall Man Spirit, however, now the mysterious figure has become ordinarily known among the people as the Walking Sam.
“A Tall Man spirit is appearing to these kids and telling them to kill themselves.”Chris Carey, Reservation minister
The president of the tribe, John Yellow Bird Steele, stated that it is believed by many Sioux, that it is a suicide spirit which is similar to Slender Man.
Practically, blaming suicides on a traditional urban Legend of traditional folklore might seem far-fetched, But, the number of young people committing suicides on the reservation is way higher than the national average.
Perhaps, Walking Sam could be an explanation for the alarmingly high number of suicides committed by Young adults and teens.
These deaths are obviously disheartening and shocking, a foiled mass suicide is perhaps the most chilling tale to creep out of Pine Ridge.
Since December, 103 people have attempted suicide on the reservation so far, and, shockingly, out of 103 people, 9 young children between the age of 12 to 24 have died.
Back in February 2015, Pastor John Two Bulls was informed that a group of teenagers had planned to take their lives by committing mass suicide.
After rushing to the spot, he spotted a cluster of nooses hanging from the trees and a group of teenagers who were gathered at the spot.
Fortunately, Pastor John Two Bulls reached the spot on time and the teenagers were offered help before they could take any harsh step.
Had not the Pastor reached there on time, the scenario would have been very different.
Santana Janis, one of the nine children, who took their own lives.
She was only 12 years old.
Spirit of Walking Sam
The exact origin of the spirit cannot be figured out as the Tribe had an old tradition of passing down stories orally, however, the walking Sam is quite popular and has been known for ages.
He is known by multiple names such as the tall man, Stovepipe Hat Bigfoot, and, Big Man.
He is believed to be 7-foot tall and has a lean body, with long arms and eyes, however, he doesn’t have a nose or a mouth, and when he raises his arms, souls of men and women from Lakota Tribe hang from them.
He is quite similar to Slender Man in appearance.
In Folklore, it is believed that the Walking Sam has been sent to Earth as punishment and he seeks company.
In 1983, Peter Matthiessen wrote a book, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”, based on Pine Ridge, describes Walking Sam as follow:
“There is your Big Man standing there, ever waiting, ever present, like the coming of a new day… He is both spirit and real being, but he can also glide through the forest, like a moose with big antlers, as though the trees weren’t there… I know him as my brother… I want him to touch me, just a touch, a blessing, something I could bring home to my sons and grandchildren, that I was there, that I approached him, and he touched me.”
According to Daily Dot, Walking Sam has been appeared at tribal council meetings with government officials.
“A woman, who was elderly but otherwise quite lucid, described Walking Sam as a big man in a tall hat who has appeared around the reservation and caused young people to commit suicides. ”Mike Crowley, Blogger
Another theory behind the suicides
The tale of Walking Sam is captivating, however, it is believed that poverty could be the reason behind the mass suicides.
The Pine Ridge Reservation has some of the worst rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, violence and unemployment in America.
Life expectancy rate of men is below 50 years, in the PIne Ridge Reservation, which is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere.
“Our kids today just want to die because they’re sick of all this oppression.”Santana’s Grandfather
Racism is believed to be another reason behind the teens committing suicide.
Santana Janis, who killed herself only at the age of 12 years, was called a filthy Indian in a hotel, days before she died.
Pine Ridge students were harassed as they were drenched with beer and forced to leave a hockey game outside the reservation for their own safety just two months ago.
Teen suicides are disheartening and tearing down the Tribe.