Preventing and Responding to Suicide Clusters in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Between 2009 and 2011, two tribal communities located approximately 3,000 miles apart—an American Indian tribe on a reservation in New Mexico and a group of closely knit Alaska Native villages in western Alaska—experienced clusters of youth suicides. Across these communities, 25 young people, all American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN), took their own lives. At least 28 others attempted suicide, 19 of whom were hospitalized, and more than 60 other young people were identified as being suicidal. Many other reservations and tribal villages have experienced, and continue to experience, similar tragedies, including an Alaskan village in the same region, where nine young people attempted suicide in 2013.

The purpose of this report is to learn about suicide clusters and responses in tribal communities; identify strength-based approaches to prevention, response, and recovery; explore existing and needed resources for prevention, response, and recovery; and provide recommendations for tribal communities, and for federal, state, and partners.

Population of focus: American Indian and Alaska Native youth

Links to resource:

Date: 2016

Organization: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration