Risk factors for suicide among Indian adolescents at a boarding school

Public Health Rep. 1989 Nov-Dec;104(6):609-14.


Suicide rates among American Indians, especially adolescents, are higher than those for the general population. This paper summarizes the relevant literature on prevalence of, and risk factors for, suicide among American Indian groups, with a strong emphasis on adolescents. Data concerning risk of suicide for a sample of high school students attending an Indian boarding school are presented. Approximately 23 percent of these students had attempted suicide at some time in the past, and 33 percent reported suicidal ideation within the past month. Students at greatest risk for suicide include those who reported having either family or friends who had attempted suicide and those who reported on standardized psychological measures as having experienced greater depressive symptomatology, greater quantity and frequency of alcohol use, or little family support. In a 1988 survey of community-based programs for Indian adolescents, 194 were identified as carrying out significant suicide prevention activities. Forty-one of those programs were school-based; they emphasized early identification of students' mental health problems and reduction of specific risk factors such as substance abuse.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / complications
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American* / psychology
  • Indians, North American* / statistics & numerical data
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools
  • Social Support
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Suicide* / psychology
  • Suicide* / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States