Online Program

“I'm grateful for waking up every morning”: Screening for Suicide Risk among American Indian/Alaska Native and First Nations Youth

Monday, November 2, 2015

Amelia Mueller-Williams, MPH, MSW, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Debora Tauiliili, MS, MSW, American Indian Health & Family Services of Southeast Michigan, Inc., Detroit, MI
Sandra Momper, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Ashley Tuomi, DHSc, American Indian Health & Family Services of Southeast Michigan, Inc., Detroit, MI
Christy Bieber, BS, American Indian Health & Family Services of Southeast Michigan, Inc., Detroit, MI
background:  Suicide is a significant problem in American Indian, Alaska Native and First Nations (AI/AN/FN) communities especially among youth. In this study we conducted screenings to identify youth (ages 10-24) at risk of suicide, created a profile of youth at risk for suicide and provided culturally relevant mental health supports.

method:  Suicide screenings occurred at seven events in Michigan: Powwows, Health Fairs, and at an Urban Indian Health Organization. Trained gatekeepers and mental health staff conducted the private one-on-one screens with 125 youth. Data on demographics, depression, suicidal ideation, past suicide attempt, cultural identity and strengths and supports were collected.

key Results:  Participants were 60.8% female, 36.8% male and about 1.0% Two-Spirit or transgender. Racial identities included AI/AN/FN only (32%); AI/AN/FN in combination with one or more other races (36.8%); and about 30% other races. Of the 125, 18.2% screened positive with an average depression score of 11.8 (a positive score is >10). The average depression score for the entire sample was 5.1. Reports of serious thoughts of suicide in the past month were 3.2%, with an average score of 15.3 for this group.  Participant reports of having ever attempted suicide were 11.2%, this group being 92.9% female with an average score of 13.1.

conclusions:  Suicidal ideation and attempts were more prevalent among youth who identified solely as AI/AN/FN alone with significantly elevated depression scores.  These data support the need to screen AI/AN/FN youth on a much broader level as well as provide more mental health supports.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify characteristics of youth at-risk of suicide. Describe profile of youth at-risk of suicide. Compare American Indian, Alaska Native, and First Nations youth suicide risk statistics with those of the general youth population. Describe a culturally-relevant youth suicide risk screening tool.

Keyword(s): Suicide, Child/Adolescent Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved with suicide prevention work in the Southeast Michigan area American Indian/Alaska Native/First Nations (AI/AN/FN) community through two federal grants focused on youth and young adults (2011-present). I have also worked on other federal grants focused on system of care development and implementation serving AI/AN/FN youth and families in Southeast Michigan, substance abuse, and chronic disease prevention, most in coordination with American Indian Health & Family Services of Southeast Michigan Inc.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.