Strain, emotion, and suicide among American Indian youth

Melissa L. Walls, Constance L. Chapple, Kurt D. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


In this article, we test the utility of Agnew's general strain theory to explain suicidal behaviors among American Indian youth. Data from 721 American Indian adolescents from the Midwest and Canada were collected in partnership with participating reservations/reserves and a research team. We investigate the effects of strains/stressors on suicide, including tests of mediating effects of negative emotions on relationships between stressors and suicidality. We found that several strains/stressors were related to suicidality, including coercive parenting, caretaker rejection, negative school attitudes, and perceived discrimination. We also found that depressive symptoms and anger mediated the effects of several key predictors of suicidality. We discuss the theoretical and policy implications of our work for the general strain theory and for American Indian suicide in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-246
Number of pages28
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA13580) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH67281), Les B. Whitbeck, Principal Investigator. The authors gratefully acknowledge reviews and comments received from community advisory board members for this manuscript.


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