BACKGROUND: Indigenous young people have significantly higher suicide rates than their non-indigenous counterparts. There is a need for culturally appropriate and effective suicide prevention programs for this demographic.
AIMS: This review assesses suicide prevention programs that have been evaluated for indigenous youth in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
METHOD: The databases MEDLINE and PsycINFO were searched for publications on suicide prevention programs targeting indigenous youth that include reports on evaluations and outcomes. Program content, indigenous involvement, evaluation design, program implementation, and outcomes were assessed for each article.
RESULTS: The search yielded 229 articles; 90 abstracts were assessed, and 11 articles describing nine programs were reviewed. Two Australian programs and seven American programs were included. Programs were culturally tailored, flexible, and incorporated multiple-levels of prevention. No randomized controlled trials were found, and many programs employed ad hoc evaluations, poor program description, and no process evaluation.
CONCLUSION: Despite culturally appropriate content, the results of the review indicate that more controlled study designs using planned evaluations and valid outcome measures are needed in research on indigenous youth suicide prevention. Such changes may positively influence the future of research on indigenous youth suicide prevention as the outcomes and efficacy will be more reliable.