Months&Suicide Attempts and Deaths.jpg

The graph above illustrates significant seasonal fluctuations in the rate of youth suicide in Northwest Alaska. Contrary to popular belief about winter being the 'dark and dangerous' time, we now know that people under the age of 29 are much more likely to attempt or die from suicide in the SPRING and SUMMER months than any other time of the year.  

Community members across Northwest Alaska have expressed a number of thoughts as to why suicide rates among regional youth peak during the summer months. Some of the ideas included:

  • School is out, so youth are more likely to party with friends and consume alcohol, which is a significant risk factor for suicide.  
  • Youth are less likely to spend time with adults and Elders in the community during the summer; thus, they don’t have the mentorship, support, and guidance that they have during the school year.  
  • Youth sleep less when the sun is out. Lack of quality sleep is a major risk factor for suicide--in this region, more predictive of suicide risk than depression!

References to support learning circle 3: Seasonal influence:

Seasonality of suicide behavior in Northwest Alaska: 1990-2009