The benefits of discussing suicide with Alaska native college students: qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews

Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2013 Jan;19(1):67-75. doi: 10.1037/a0030566. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Suicide represents a significant health disparity for communities in rural Alaska, and has implications for mental health among people who have lost loved ones from suicide. A qualitative interview study was conducted to examine the ways in which suicide has affected the lives of college students who have migrated from rural villages to an urban university (N = 25). The present research represents a secondary aim of the study-specifically, we examined the affective responses of Alaska Native college students from rural villages after completing in-depth semistructured interviews about their experiences related to suicide. Debriefing questions posed at the conclusion of the interviews revealed that the majority of participants (n 16) stated they felt "better" after completing the interview, and no participants reported feeling "worse." No participant required the use of the safety plan developed in case of severe emotional distress. All participants indicated they would be interested in participating in future research. Analysis of questions pertaining to the interview experience revealed the salience of foundation (the participant's prior experience discussing issues like suicide), process (the interview questions and questioning style), and outcomes (the challenges and benefits of participation described by the respondent). Findings provided important insights concerning the experience of discussing past trauma, perceived importance of research addressing coping with suicide, and the influence of past experiences in the process of talking about suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alaska
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / psychology
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Population
  • Students / psychology*
  • Suicide / ethnology*
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult