Suicide is the second leading cause of death for American Indian (AI) young adults. Alcohol use is a well-established risk factor for suicide. On average, AIs ages 12 to 20 exhibit the second-highest rate of binge drinking compared to all other ethnic groups. The current study investigated the relation between alcohol use and suicide ideation in an AI sample and examined these relations in the context of the interpersonal theory of suicide (ITS). It was hypothesized that perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness would each significantly moderate the relations between alcohol use and suicide ideation in an AI sample. College students who self-identified as American Indian (N = 84) completed measures of alcohol use and associated problems, perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness, and suicidality. Results indicated that perceived burdensomeness significantly moderated the relation between alcohol use and suicide ideation, and this interaction was significant at high levels of perceived burdensomeness. However, thwarted belongingness was not a significant moderator of the relation between alcohol use and suicide ideation. Findings suggest that AI young adults who engage in increased alcohol use may be at increased risk for suicide, especially if they also experience stronger perceptions of being a burden on others. The current study provides support for continued examinations of the relationship between alcohol use and suicide to inform culturally appropriate interventions for AI young adults.
- Alcohol use
- American Indians
- interpersonal theory of suicide
- perceived burdensomeness