American Indian Communities
The term American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) encompasses many cultures, tribes, and traditions. North Dakota has many strong American Indian communities with a wealth of community connection, tradition, and culture. Unless other otherwise noted, the statistics mentioned on this page are national statistics and not specific to North Dakota. It is important to note that suicide rates vary among different tribal nations.
Risk Factors May Include
- Contagion is used to describe when multiple people within the same social or geographic community die by suicide within a short time frame. Proximity and relationship to suicide may put individuals at greater risk of suicide. American Indians may be at higher risk of suicide because AI/AN have considerable exposure to suicide.
- Discrimination is as important a predictor of suicide ideation as poor self-esteem or depression.
- Mental health services are difficult to access for many American Indians in North Dakota. Barriers to care include a lack of quality service providers and funding on reservations, personal transportation and payment barriers, as well as stigma.
- Stressful environments result from few economic resources or social supports for many American Indian families on and off reservations in North Dakota.
- Trauma from adverse or violent experiences increases suicide risk. American Indians are at higher risk of physical assault.
- Historical Trauma is the trauma resulting from historical efforts to eliminate American Indian cultures throughout the United States with such means as the sending of children to boarding schools and prohibiting their language and cultural activities. The fallout from reported boarding school child abuse and other historical traumas contribute to suicide risk today.
- Family breakdown may result from historical trauma, economic struggles, discrimination, or family histories of substance use disorders.
- Alienation or feeling emotionally disconnected from his or her family of origin or culture may cause a loss of wellbeing or lead to distress.
- Alcohol and Substance use disorder increases the risk of suicide for all communities. In 2005-2006, 37.1 percent of AI/AN in the U.S. who died from suicide and were tested for alcohol were legally intoxicated. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review. June 19, 2009; 58(23):637-4).
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