Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Screening for suicide ideation has been widely established as an effective strategy to identify and treat depression symptomology and suicidality (ideation, attempts, and completions), particularly within vulnerable populations such as Native Americans, where the rates of these problems exceed that of other ethnic minority groups. Findings from global research has suggested that symptoms of depression increase vulnerability to self-harm among individuals exposed to the suicide attempts of others within their family or social network. Group membership appears to increase the likelihood that the individual will acquire both the adaptive and maladaptive beliefs and proclivities of the desired group.

The risk of suicidal ideation appears to increase as well among depressed individuals who often show a sense of dysphoria, pessimism, and hopelessness regarding their future prospects. The current study examined depression, self-harm, suicidality, and traumatic exposure experiences among a sample of 203 Native American participants from 42 different tribal affiliations. The present results indicated that depression within this Native American sample provided a strong predictor of self-injury. Increased risk of self-injury among these participants was also found with the combination or interaction of depression and exposure to suicidality exhibited by others. The risk was especially elevated when the participant was moderately to severely depressed and the exposure involved a completed suicide. Descriptive statistics and a range of significant relationships between these predictor and outcome variables are also examined. Suggestions are provided for future research in this important area of suicide prevention among Native Americans.