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Psychiatry. 1991 Feb;54(1):55-63.

Suicide in Alaska Natives, 1979-1984.

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  • 1Penn State University, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey 17033.


Alaska native suicide data were reviewed for every Alaska native suicide (N = 90) from death certificate data for the years 1979-1984 and compared to suicide statistics of age- and sex-matched groups of the entire U.S. population. The yearly suicide rate for Alaska natives was about twice that for the United States. Most of this difference was accounted for by dramatically and significantly greater rates for young, single, Alaska native men compared to white men in the U.S.; this was true for both the 15-24 and 25-34 age groups. With advancing age, suicide rates among Alaska natives decreased; the rates for the 35-44 and 45-54 male groups were still much greater, but not significantly so, than the rates for the comparable U.S. groups. After age 55, no suicides were reported for Alaska natives while U.S. white men had their highest suicide rates in the 55-64 and 65 and above groups. A number of social factors appear to have fueled the rise in suicide rates in young Alaska native men, including: economic growth, industrialization and changing lifestyles; prevalence of firearms; and a high rate of alcoholism.

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