Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
2010 National Suicide Prevention Week
September 5 - September 11
Every 15 minutes someone in the U.S dies of suicide.
Every 16 minutes someone is left to make sense of it.
The recently published IHS Trends in Indian Health, 2002-2003 reports:
- The American Indian and Alaska Native suicide rate (17.9) for the three year period (2002-2004) in the IHS service areas is 1.7 times that of U.S. all races rate (10.8) for 2003.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death behind unintentional injuries for Indian youth ages 15-24 residing in IHS service areas and is 3.5 times higher than the national average.
- Suicide is the 6th leading cause of death overall for males residing in IHS service areas and ranks ahead of homicide.
- American Indian and Alaska Native young people ages 15-34 make up 64 percent of all suicides in Indian Country.
Suicide is a major public health concern. Suicide prevention involves everyone from individuals to communities to institutions (schools/hospitals/etc.). Many American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities are affected by high rates of suicide. Suicide and suicidal behavior affects individuals of all ages, genders, races, and religions. A combination of factors contributes to the risk of suicide and buffers from suicidal thoughts and behavior. There are a wide range of general risk factors that have been shown to contribute to suicide in adolescents. In the case of AI/AN young people, they face, on average, a greater number of these risk factors at once or the risk factors are more severe in nature.
|Risk Factors||Protective Factors|
|Previous suicide attempt(s)||Higher self-esteem|
|History of depression or other mental illness||Social connectedness|
|Alcohol or drug abuse||Problem-solving skills|
|Family history of suicide||Supportive family, friends, and community|
|Family history of child maltreatment||Effective clinical care - support for ongoing health care|
|Physical illness||Easy access to variety of intervention|
|Feeling alone/hopelessness||Support for help seeking|
|Impulsive or aggressive tendencies||Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide|
|Local epidemics of suicide||Skills in conflict resolution|
|Barriers to access treatment||Sense of belonging to their culture|
|Loss - relational, social, work, financial||Strong tribal spiritual orientation|
|Easy access to lethal methods||Cultural continuity|
We know that some of the underlying social, educational, and cultural issues related to suicide include poverty, lack of economic opportunity, limited educational alternatives, community breakdown, familial disruption, and stigma. Geographically isolated reservations may amplify these risks and contribute to the sense of hopelessness among young people.
Suicide affects community's health in that family and friends of people who have committed suicide feel shock, anger, guilt, and depression. Suicide is one of the most tragic events that a family can endure and the grief caused by suicide cannot be underestimated or ignored.
September 5 - September 11 is the National Suicide Prevention Week. The theme for this year is "Families, Community Systems and Suicide," with the focus on raising awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death.
Resources were you can find more information on suicide and suicide prevention: