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Suicidal Behavior in Urban American Indian Adolescents: A Comparison with Reservation Youth in a Southwestern State


  • This research was funded by NIMH grant 1 K02 MH01797-01A1 and NIDA grants 1 R24DA13572-01, R01 DA13227-01.

Address correspondence to Stacey Freedenthal, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, 1 Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO, 63130; E-mail:


The majority of American Indians live off of reservations, yet research on suicidal behavior in this population overwhelmingly focuses on reservation Indians. This exploratory study interviewed a stratified random sample of 144 urban and 170 reservation American Indian adolescents to compare rates and correlates of suicidal behavior. One fifth of urban youth and one third of reservation youth reported lifetime suicidal ideation, although similar numbers (14%–18%) reported an attempt. Urban youth had fewer psychosocial problems, and in separate multivariate analyses, the groups shared no common correlate of attempted suicide. Different approaches to prevention and treatment may be warranted for urban Indian youth.