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NCJ Number: 227779 Find in a Library
Title: Suicide Epidemic in an American Indian Community
Journal: American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research  Volume:3  Issue:1  Dated:Summer 1989  Pages:34-44
Author(s): Margene Tower R.N., M.S.
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 11
Document: HTML
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the suicide epidemic on Montana’s Wind River Reservation during August and September of 1985, when there were 12 reported deaths from suicide and 88 verified suicide attempts or threats.
Abstract: Fifty-nine percent of the suicides involved 15-to 24-year-olds; and 41 percent involved 25 to 60-year-olds. This finding may support what some people on the reservation have been reporting, i.e., that suicide among older American Indian people is increasing, contrary to the national norm. Given the important role that elders play in American Indian culture, this trend may be undermining efforts to prevent suicide epidemics among Indian adolescents. In the final analysis, however, there is no clear answer as to why an epidemic of suicides occurred on the Wind River Reservation in 1985. It is likely that a combination of factors were involved. The highest incidence of suicides occurred in the housing projects on the reservation. Alcohol intoxication was a factor in four of the suicides, and a history of alcohol abuse and/or history of suicide attempts or completion within the extended family or immediate peer group of the victims was also found. Other issues were identified by tribal leaders, including high unemployment, negative attitudes toward American Indian people in surrounding non-Indian communities, and loss of attention to tribal ceremonies and traditions. Regarding the community responses to the completed suicides and attempts/threats, this article describes the immediate response of the Behavior Health Program on the reservation, the Indian Health Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The impact of media coverage is also examined. Suggestions are offered for long-term prevention and community responses to an adolescent suicide epidemic. 1 table, 1 figure, and 5 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile suicide
Index Term(s): American Indians; Montana; Suicide; Suicide causes; Suicide prevention
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