Suicide rates for Native Americans have been rising faster than any other group, a new CDC analysis says: 139% for women and 71% for men since 1999. Experts say poverty, substance abuse, unemployment, and lack of access to mental health care are all contributing factors, USA Today reports. For the US overall, suicide is up 33% in the same period. A 2018 report from the CDC listed the suicide rate non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Natives was more than 3.5 times higher than the incidence among racial and ethnic groups with the lowest rates.
In addition, almost 84% of American Indian and Alaska Native women are the victims of violence at some point, according to a 2016 report from the National Institute of Justice. Included in that are 56% who have experienced sexual violence and roughly the same percentage who have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner, per USA Today. Research shows more than a third of women who have been raped have contemplated suicide, and 13% have attempted it, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. "You get this historical trauma, and people aren’t able to resolve it. It gets internalized and passed down to future generations," said Karen Hearod, regional administrator at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. (Read more suicide rate stories.)