Toward an Understanding of Suicide in First-Nation Canadians

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Despite having a suicide rate that is consistently higher than the national Canadian average, our understanding of suicide within First-Nation Canadians is limited. Furthermore, our historical research endeavors in this area have tended to focus on clarifying characteristic symptoms, symptom clusters, and risk factors; establishing causal links; and identifying clinical phenomena associated with the presence of increased risk and have tended to use quantitative methods. The “voice” of the suicidal First-Nation person is largely “silent” within this literature and, as a result, any understanding we have of this issue is unbalanced and incomplete. Accordingly, this paper makes the case for adding a complementary (or shifting the existing) research emphasis for studying suicide within First-Nation Canadian communities. It suggests a complimentary strategic research activity that is more concerned with qualitative methods: A model that augments the current understanding of the “developmental-existential” model of suicide by accessing and articulating the “voices” of the First-Nation people themselves.


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