Protective Factors in the Inuit Population of Nunavut: A Comparative Study of People Who Died by Suicide, People Who Attempted Suicide, and People Who Never Attempted Suicide

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Jan 16;15(1):144. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15010144.


Epidemiological data shows an alarming prevalence of suicide in Aboriginal populations around the world. In Canada, the highest rates are found in Inuit communities. In this article, we present the findings of a secondary analysis conducted with data previously collected as part of a larger study of psychological autopsies conducted in Nunavut, Canada. The objective of this secondary analysis was to identify protective factors in the Inuit population of Nunavut by comparing people who died by suicide, people from the general population who attempted suicide, and people from the general population who never attempted suicide. This case-control study included 90 participants, with 30 participants in each group who were paired by birth date, sex, and community. Content analysis was first conducted on the clinical vignettes from the initial study in order to codify the presence of protective variables. Then, inferential analyses were conducted to highlight differences between each group in regards to protection. Findings demonstrated that (a) people with no suicide attempt have more protective variables throughout their lifespan than people who died by suicide and those with suicide attempts within the environmental, social, and individual dimensions; (b) people with suicide attempts significantly differ from the two other groups in regards to the use of services; and (c) protective factors that stem from the environmental dimension show the greatest difference between the three groups, being significantly more present in the group with no suicide attempt. Considering these findings, interventions could focus on enhancing environmental stability in Inuit communities as a suicide prevention strategy.

Keywords: Aboriginal; Inuit; Nunavut; prevention; protective factors; suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inuit / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Nunavut / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Protective Factors
  • Suicide* / ethnology
  • Suicide* / psychology
  • Young Adult

Grant support