Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 7-14

Global goals and suicide prevention in the Circumpolar North

1 School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
2 Indigenous Studies, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
3 Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
4 Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
5 Center for Alaska Native Research, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
6 Department of Global Health; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Pamela Y Collins
Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Harris Hydraulics Building, 1510 NE San Juan Road, Seattle, Washington 98195
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_717_19

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The purpose of this selective narrative review is to provide an overview of suicide and suicide prevention in the Circumpolar North and the relevance of global strategies and policies to these themes. We conducted a selective review of the English language literature on Arctic Indigenous mental health, suicide, and suicide prevention. We briefly present the social context, epidemiology, and risk and protective factors for suicide in the Arctic, with a focus on Indigenous peoples. We highlight a recent collaborative, intergovernmental response to elevated suicide rates in this region, the Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups – Strengths United through Networks Initiative, which used a consensus methodology to identify key outcomes for evaluating suicide prevention interventions in the circumpolar context. In relation to the Sustainable Development Goals, we examine recent policy developments in Indigenous-led suicide prevention and identify opportunities for strengthening policy, community interventions, and research. Globally, suicide prevention is a public health priority, and reducing the number of suicide deaths is a key target for sustainable development. Although overall and country-specific suicide rates have decreased since 1990, there remains wide variation at the regional and local level. This is particularly evident in the Arctic region known as the Circumpolar North, where Indigenous peoples experience marked disparities in suicide risk and suicide deaths compared to non-Indigenous populations. The factors that influence these variations are complex and often rooted in the social and economic consequences of colonization. The integration of science, community-based and Indigenous knowledge, and policies that address upstream risks for suicide will play an important role in suicide prevention alongside the growing number of Indigenous suicide prevention strategies tailored for specific populations.



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