Objectives: We assessed national and regional suicide mortality for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons.
Methods: We used 1999 to 2009 death certificate data linked with Indian Health Service (IHS) patient registration data to examine death rates from suicide in AI/AN and White persons. Analysis focused primarily on residents of IHS Contract Health Service Delivery Area counties; Hispanics were excluded. We used age-adjusted death rates per 100,000 population and stratified our analyses by age and IHS region.
Results: Death rates from suicide were approximately 50% higher among AI/AN persons (21.2) than Whites (14.2). By region, rates for AI/AN people were highest in Alaska (rates = 65.4 and 19.3, for males and females, respectively) and in the Northern Plains (rates = 41.6 and 11.9 for males and females, respectively). Disparities between AI/AN and White rates were also highest in these regions.
Conclusions: A coordinated, multidisciplinary effort involving federal, state, local, and tribal health officials is needed to address this important public health issue.