Epidemiological and follow-back study of suicides in Alaska

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Perkins, Ron ; Sanddal, Teri L. ; Howell, Marcia ; Sanddal, Nels D. ; Berman, Alan (2009)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Circumpolar Health (issn: 1797-237X, eissn: 1239-9736)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/ijch.v68i3.18334
  • Subject: suicide, follow-back, Alaska, epidemiology, Alaska Native
    mesheuropmc: health care economics and organizations | social sciences | population characteristics

Objectives. To conduct an in-depth analysis of all suicides occurring in Alaska between September 1, 2003 and August 31, 2006, and to conduct follow-back interviews with key informants for select cases. Study design. Suicide data were gathered from the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics, law enforcement agencies and the Alaska medical examiner’s office. Trained counsellors administered the 302 branching-question follow-back protocol during in-person interviews with key informants about the decedents. Methods. Suicide death certificates, medical examiner’s reports and police files were analysed retrospectively. Key informants were contacted for confidential interviews about the decedents’ life, especially regarding risk and protective factors. Results. There were 426 suicides during the 36-month study period. The suicide rate was 21.4/100,000. Males out-numbered females 4 to 1. The age-group of 20 to 29 had both the greatest number of suicides and the highest rate per 100,000 population. Alaska Natives had a suicide rate that was three times higher than the non-Native population. Follow-back interviews were conducted with 71 informants for 56 of the suicide decedents. Conclusions. This research adds significant information to our existing knowledge of suicide in Alaska, particularly as it affects the younger age groups among the Alaska Native population and the role of alcohol/drugs.(Int J Circumpolar Health 2009; 68(3):212-223)Keywords: suicide, follow-back, Alaska, epidemiology, Alaska Native
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