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Murkowski supports study of Native youth suicide

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to fund a study into Alaska Native youth suicide.

Murkowski said the $1.2 million study, which was first proposed by the Commissioner Warren Zapol of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, will examine mental and behavioral health issues among Alaska Natives. She said it could lead to better treatment options.

“According to the Indian Health Service, suicide rates for American Indians and Alaska Natives are 70 percent higher than the general United States Population,” Murkowski wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 10-24. Males are especially at risk and commit suicide at a rate five times higher than females.”

The state's suicide rate rose for the fourth year in a row, the Bureau of Vital Statistics reported. The average rate over the past 10 years for remote villages and towns in Northwest Alaska is more than three times the statewide average.

Get the Story:
Murkowski seeks fed funding on suicide study (AP 5/27)
Suicide rate rises for 4th consecutive year (The Anchorage Daily News 5/28)