Suicide and alcohol use disorders are significant Alaska Native health disparities, yet there is limited understanding of protection and no studies of social network factors in protection in this or other populations. The Qungasvik intervention enhances protective factors from suicide and alcohol use disorders through activities grounded in Yup'ik cultural practices and values. Identification of social network factors associated with protection within the cultural context of these tight, close knit, and high density rural Yup'ik Alaska Native communities in southwest Alaska can help identify effective prevention strategies for suicide and alcohol use disorder risk. Using data from ego-centered social network and protective factors from suicide and alcohol use disorders surveys with 50 Yup'ik adolescents, we provide descriptive data on structural and network composition variables, identify key network variables that explain major proportions of the variance in a four principal component structure of these network variables, and demonstrate the utility of these key network variables as predictors of family and community protective factors from suicide and alcohol use disorder risk. Connections to adults and connections to elders, but not peer connections, emerged as predictors of family and community level protection, suggesting these network factors as important intervention targets for intervention.
Keywords: American Indian / Alaska Native; alcohol use disorder; prevention; social networks; suicide.