Toward understanding suicide among youths: Results from the White Mountain Apache tribally mandated suicide surveillance system, 2001-2006

Britta Mullany*, Allison Barlow, Novalene Goklish, Francene Larzelere-Hinton, Mary Cwik, Mariddie Craig, John T. Walkup

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Scopus citations


Objectives. We examined suicide and suicide attempt rates, patterns, and risk factors among White Mountain Apache youths (aged <25 years) from 2001 to 2006 as the first phase of a community-based participatory research process to design and evaluate suicide prevention interventions. Methods. Apache paraprofessionals gathered data as part of a tribally mandated suicide surveillance system. We compared findings to other North American populations. Results. Between 2001 and 2006, 61% of Apache suicides occurred among youths younger than 25 years. Annual rates among those aged 15 to 24 years were highest: 128.5 per 100000, 13 times the US all-races rate and 7 times the American Indian and Alaska Native rate. The annual suicide attempt incidence rate in this age group was 3.5%. The male-to-female ratio was 5:1 for suicide and approximately 1:1 for suicide attempts. Hanging was the most common suicide method, and third most common attempt method. The most frequently cited attempt precipitants were family or intimate partner conflict. Conclusions. An innovative tribal surveillance system identified high suicide and attempt rates and unique patterns and risk factors of suicidal behavior among Apache youths. Findings are guiding targeted suicide prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1840-1848
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this