Native American Suicide Epidemic

Suicide rates among Native Americans are at a crisis level. The suicide rate for Native American youth is more than double the national average, while the adult rate is almost twice as high as that of all other racial groups.

Many factors contribute to the high suicide rates among Native Americans, including racism and poverty

Native American suicide rates are high because of a combination of factors. One is racism, which prevents many Native Americans from getting the mental health care they need. Another is poverty, which keeps them from accessing culturally appropriate services and community resources. Furthermore, another factor that contributes to this epidemic is the lack of culturally appropriate resources and services available to those who are suffering from depression or other mental health issues such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The trauma of past generations lives on in the present generation of Native people. Native Americans have been subjected to genocide, forced removal from their lands, and forced assimilation into white culture. These events have led to high rates of mental illness among Native Americans today.

The following mental health native american statistics demonstrate how prevalent these issues are:

  • 13% of American Indians are affected by severe depression at some point during their lifetimes; this rate is 21 times higher than that for non-Hispanic whites or Hispanics.
  • 11% suffer from anxiety disorder; this rate is 17 times higher than non-Hispanic whites or Hispanics.
  • About 2/3rds have experienced some form of abuse as children (physical, sexual or emotional).

Research has shown that community and culture can be effective in preventing suicidal thoughts and behaviours, including among Native American youth. In many communities across the nation, suicide rates are rising among young people.

What do you think would help prevent native American youths from committing suicide?

On the local level, I think that more funding for mental health services would help. It’s also important to increase awareness of the problem and support for families and community members who are dealing with these issues on a daily basis. It is equally important to provide support for tribal leaders, educators and law enforcement so that they can use their skills in order to help prevent suicide among native youth.