American Indian and Alaska Native Populations
American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people are descended from any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment.1 The term AI/AN encompasses many ethnic and cultural groups, tribes, and traditions. The data on this web page do not include people of Hispanic ethnicity. In 2022, AI/AN populations comprised an estimated 1.3% of the U.S. population.2
Challenges in understanding suicide rates in AI/AN populations include the following:
- State mortality data often do not capture tribal affiliation.
- Tribes may have their own surveillance systems and/or their own definition of suicide.
- The concept of “suicide” may not be part of the cultural vocabulary of some tribes, making it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain rates.
- Tribes may be reluctant to share data because they fear it will be misused.
What follows is the best estimate of the scope of suicide in AI/AN populations given these limitations.
Among American Indian and Alaska Native populations, the rates of death by suicide increased from 17 per 100,000 in 2011 to 24 per 100,000 in 2020. Over the same time period, the overall U.S. rates of death by suicide increased slightly, from 12 to 14 per 100,000.1
Among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations, suicide rates peak among those ages 25-34 and decline at age 35. Suicide rates begin to increase again at age 75.1
As in the overall U.S. population, the rate of suicide deaths among males was more than three times the rate among females in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations between 2011 and 2020. The rate of suicide deaths among AI/AN populations was higher than that of the overall U.S. population for both males and females.1
A much higher percentage of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations reported past-year suicidal thoughts compared to the overall U.S. population (9% and 5%, respectively). The percentages of AI/AN populations reporting past-year suicide plans and suicide attempts are slightly higher than the percentages in the overall U.S. population.2
In 2021, a higher percentage of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) high school youth reported seriously considering attempting suicide in the past year, making a past-year suicide plan, and attempting suicide in the past year compared to youth in the overall U.S. population. The percentage of AI/AN high school youth who reported feeling sad or hopeless was similar to the percentage of the overall U.S. population.3
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). 1999-2020 Wide ranging online data for epidemiological research (WONDER), multiple cause of death files [Data file]. National Center for Health Statistics. http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html
- Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2023). 2021 National survey on drug use and health: Detailed tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2021-nsduh-detailed-tables
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). 1991-2021 High school youth risk behavior survey data [Data file]. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. http://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/
|The charts and graphs in this section are also available as a PowerPoint slide set. Feel free to use this slide set to deliver a presentation about the scope of the suicide problem.|