Background: Rates of adolescent suicide in the United States are highest among Native Americans but little is known about risk factors for suicide attempts in this population. Methods: To identify risk factors for self-reported suicide attempts by Navajo adolescents, we analyzed the 1988 Indian Health Service Adolescent Health Survey that was administered to 7,254 students in grades 6 through 12 on the Navajo reservation. The responses of students reporting a past suicide attempt were compared to others. Results: Nearly 15 percent (N = 971) reported a previous suicide attempt; over half of those admitted to more than one attempt. Controlling for age, a logistic regression model revealed the following associations with suicide attempts: a history of mental health problems (OR = 3.2); alienation from family and community (OR = 3.2); having a friend who attempted suicide (OR = 2.8); weekly consumption of hard liquor (OR = 2.7); a family history of a suicide or attempt (OR = 2.3); poor self-perception of health (OR = 2.2); a history of physical abuse (OR = 1.9); female gender (OR = 1.7); and sexual abuse (OR = 1.5). Conclusions: Efforts to prevent adolescent suicide attempts in this population should target individuals with those risk factors of the highest risk and prevalence of exposure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health