Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Increased Suicide Rates: Suicide rates among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons increased by nearly 20% from 2015 to 2020, a significant rise compared to the less than 1% increase in the overall U.S. population.
  2. Higher Odds of Relationship and Substance Use Problems: AI/AN suicide decedents had higher odds of experiencing a range of relationship problems and substance use issues, in contrast to lower odds of known mental health conditions and treatment, compared to non-AI/AN decedents.
  3. Distinct Suicide Characteristics: AI/AN suicide decedents were more likely to die by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation, and less likely by firearm injury. They also had higher odds of dying in natural areas or supervised facilities.
  4. Circumstances of Suicide: AI/AN decedents were more likely to have disclosed suicidal intent before death and had a history of suicidal thoughts or plans. However, they were less likely to leave a suicide note.
  5. Toxicology Findings: AI/AN decedents had higher odds of positive toxicology results for substances like alcohol, amphetamines, and marijuana, but lower odds for opioids, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author:

Deborah Stone,

Suggested Citation:

Stone D, Trinh E, Zhou H, et al. Suicides Among American Indian or Alaska Native Persons — National Violent Death Reporting System, United States, 2015–2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:1161–1168. DOI: .


This report provides a comprehensive analysis of suicides among AI/AN persons in the United States between 2015 and 2020. It highlights the disproportionate impact of suicide on this group, especially the non-Hispanic AI/AN population, whose suicide rates have risen significantly in this period.


The study utilized data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), covering 49 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. It compared characteristics and circumstances of suicide among AI/AN and non-AI/AN decedents, controlling for age and sex.


The analysis revealed notable differences in the suicide characteristics of AI/AN individuals compared to the non-AI/AN population. Factors such as relationship issues, substance use, and the location of suicide were significantly different. The study also noted lower odds of AI/AN individuals having known mental health conditions or receiving treatment.


The findings call for culturally relevant and comprehensive public health approaches to suicide prevention among AI/AN populations. Addressing systemic and long-standing inequities is crucial in formulating effective strategies.


This has been your booster shot of MMWR Info! Please check back for more MMWR, Public Health, and Programming Tutorial content daily.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>