The Link Between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Youth Suicide in Native American Populations: A Literature Review
Recent reports have illustrated the abnormally high, and growing, epidemic of youth suicide amongst the American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) population. This growing epidemic has led to many tribes calling for a state of emergency. Given that the suicide rate is much higher than the population average, research was conducted to find a correlational link. Based upon high rates of trauma within the AI/AN population and a history of trauma in the recent past, research was conducted to establish a link between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide in this population. To establish a correlation between PTSD and the suicide epidemic, 132 sources were analyzed and possible connections were established. It was discovered that PTSD can arise via several routes: biological, psychological, sociological, and through cultural narrative. Furthermore, evidence suggests that PTSD can be transmitted intergenerationally by way of all previously stated routes. Overall, those exposed to multiple traumas earlier in life are more likely to develop PTSD, and thus, be at risk for suicide. On the contrary, it was found that a sense of culture and identity can be protective factors against both PTSD and suicide. If a causative link can be established between PTSD and suicide than appropriate therapies can be developed to reverse a growing epidemic.