Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Justin D. McDonald


This research project aimed to explore the trajectory of suicide within one tribal nation, the Sioux. The researcher attempted to identify risk factor significance, create new factors current research may be lacking, and gain saturated context for suicide from Siouan-affiliated individuals. Suicidality was explored in two phases. Phase one required individual participants to classify and rank potential life stressors (PLS). Phase two included another round of classification in addition to thematic content analysis within an expert panelist setting. Phases were completed by three different panel groups. Panel one included individuals who have attempted suicide, panel two included a group of mental health providers, and panel three included individuals who are fluent in a Siouan dialect. Each theme was defined according to the commonality of the theme’s included PLS. Unanimous results across the sample identified eight extremely with four PLS considered very important to Siouan suicidality. Extreme PLS included abandonment, being in foster care, physical violence parent to child, sexual assault by a family member, and sexual assault by a stranger. Very important PLS included jail or detention, lack of support, witnessing someone get severely hurt, and witnessing someone in the community get physically assaulted. An additional eighteen PLS were considered either extremely or very important across all three panels. Twenty-four themes were created with some overlap and definitions. The results from this exploratory qualitative analysis may be useful for understanding conceptual and measurable suicide risk experiences within a particular AIAN nation.