Cultural Awareness and Competency Around Suicide Prevention

SAMHSA encourages practitioners to develop suicide prevention strategies that account for the cultural beliefs and practices of different population groups.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 8 to 24. Furthermore, American Indian and Alaska Native high school students report higher rates of suicidal behaviors (serious thoughts of suicide, making suicide plans, attempting suicide, and getting medical attention for a suicide attempt) than the general population of U.S. high school students. As a result, SAMHSA supports an innovative training and technical assistance project that helps tribal communities develop and implement community-based prevention plans to reduce violence, bullying, and suicide among American Indian and Alaska Native youth.

Another SAMHSA initiative designed to respond to the high rates of attempted suicide among American Indian and Alaska Native youth is the Garrett Lee Smith State/Tribal Suicide Prevention Program. Grantees work closely with government agencies and the private sector in developing and implementing statewide or tribal youth prevention and early intervention strategies. SAMHSA has also awarded Tribal Behavioral Health Grants, called Native Connections, to reduce suicide and substance abuse in tribal communities.

In addition, SAMHSA published To Live to See the Great Day that Dawns: Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults – 2010. This publication offers culturally appropriate guidance to American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Of students in grades 9 to 12, significantly more Hispanic/Latina female students (13.5%) reported attempting suicide in the last year as compared to Black, non-Hispanic female students (8.8%) and White, non-Hispanic female students (7.9%). One national study found that perceived caring from teachers was associated with a decreased risk of suicide attempts by Latina adolescents.

Last Updated: 09/20/2017