American Indian

American Indian

American Indian Poster

Suicide rates for the American Indian population are typically significantly higher than for other racial or ethnic groups, although suicide rates do vary among tribes. American Indians residing on reservations often face a number of challenges, including historical trauma, poverty, and high rates of unemployment and substance use. Suicidal ideation among youth residing on reservations has been found to be higher than for those youth living in more urban settings, though rates of attempted suicide were not found to be significantly different between the two groups (Freedenthal, S. & Stiffman, A.R., 2004).

Other risk factors that have been found to be associated with increased suicidal ideation among American Indians include: loss of family members of friends to suicide, low self-esteem, depression, gang involvement and availability of guns. The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) has a fact sheet that outlines a number of other risk factors and statistics specific to AI/AN population. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) also has a fact sheet summarizing data and research on suicidal behavior among AI/AN.


  • The Helpline Center has partnered with the Department of Social Services, Division of Behavioral Health to develop awareness materials for American Indian youth. If you are interested in obtaining these materials, please contact the Helpline Center at or call 605-339-4357.You can view some of the materials here: Youth Warning Sign Card or Poster
  • To Live To See the Great Day that Dawns: This guide was created to promote the mental health of AI/AN youth and to support AI/AN communities and those who serve them in developing effective, culturally appropriate suicide prevention plans. The guide lays the groundwork for comprehensive prevention planning and covers actions a community can take in response to a suicide to help the community heal and thereby prevent related suicidal behaviors.
  • The Model Adolescent Suicide Prevention Program is a public health-oriented suicide prevention and intervention program originally developed for a small American Indian tribe in rural New Mexico to target high rates of suicide among its adolescents and young adults. This program is found on NREPP (National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices) and includes sections related to community education, formalized surveillance of suicide-related behaviors; a school-based suicide prevention curriculum; screening and clinical services; and an extensive outreach program.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a Culture Card: A Guide to Build Cultural Awareness-American Indian and Alaska Native in order to help provide a basic understanding of some cultural differences that exist in this popluation.