The underrecording of suicides in state and national records, Alaska, 1983-1984

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1988 Fall;18(3):237-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1943-278x.1988.tb00159.x.


Information on Alaskan suicides has come primarily from studies based upon records obtained from the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). To evaluate the accuracy of these statistics, state and national (NCHS) vital statistics records were searched for suicide deaths in Alaska in 1983-1984. Of 195 deaths meeting our case definition of suicide, only 141 (72%) appeared in state records and 112 (57%) appeared in NCHS records. Native suicides were more likely to be underrecorded than non-Native suicides, even after differences in recording district personnel were adjusted for. Errors resulted primarily from delayed determinations of the cause of death and failure to update the records.

MeSH terms

  • Alaska
  • Cause of Death*
  • Death Certificates
  • Humans
  • Inuits
  • Suicide / epidemiology*