Teen Suicide Rates in Alaska

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A Review of Temporal trends and geographic patterns of teen suicide in Alaska, 1979-1993. Bradford D Gessner. Suicide & Life - Threatening Behavior. New York: Fall 1997. Vol. 27, Iss. 3; pg. 264, 10 pgs

Temporal Trends and Geographic Patterns of Teen Suicide in Alaska, written by Bradford D. Gessner, reported the findings of a study on teen suicide rates in Alaska. Using death certificates and U.S. census data to record trends in suicide rates among Alaskan teens ages 14-19, it was found that the teen suicide rate was 31.5 per 100,000 persons each year. The study tested three hypotheses, the first being that the overall suicide rate of Alaska teens ages 14-19 during 1979-1993 would vary according to residence, gender, race, and age. Indeed, “suicide rates varied up to sixfold by race, gender, and local census area of residence” and doubled (even tripled in some cases) for teens 17 years and younger. In addition, the rate of suicides was lower for teens who lived in married households. The second hypothesis tested and confirmed was that the rate of teen suicide had risen in Alaska during 1979-1993. Finally, the third hypothesis - that some teen suicides occurred in clusters or epidemics – was confirmed. Regarding the method of the study, suicide trends were analyzed in four ways: statewide, geographical, cluster, and statistical analysis. In the statewide analysis, the suicide incidence rate of 31.5 was approximately even during the fall, winter, summer, and spring and increased with age: 14-15 years (rate of 16.0), 16-17 years (32.4), and 18-19 years (46.5.) Across all age groups, the male suicide rate (47.5) was 3.5 times that of females (13.6.) Regarding race, Alaska Natives (76.9) were nearly four times more likely to commit suicide than Whites (21.0), with the largest risk detected among Alaska Native males (120.3.) The geographical analysis part of the study sought to determine how suicide rates correlated with the 25 census areas in Alaska...
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