Suicide rates are up to three times higher among Indigenous Native American and Alaska Native people than among any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Sovereignty, community control or autonomy, cultural identification, language, spirituality, healing ways, kinship models, and family connectedness are all important protective factors in addressing high rates of suicide among Indigenous populations.
An understanding that Indigenous people are not a homogenous group should be one of the most important drivers to consider for health and behavioral health care programs and services promoting suicide-safe care in Native American and Alaska Native communities. Screening, treatment and follow-up interventions should be designed based on the specific issues affecting each group of interest. They should be culturally-relevant, involve the most appropriate community Elders, Traditional Healers, and other important people, and consider factors such as attitudes toward death and suicide, mental health and substance use challenges and help-seeking behavior.
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