Strengths-based assessment for suicide prevention: Reasons for life as a protective factor from Yup’ik Alaska native youth suicide
Allen, J., Rasmus, S.M., Fok, C.C.T., Charles, B., Trimble, J., Lee, KS., & Qungasvik Team
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native youth, and within the Alaska Native youth subpopulation, the leading cause of death. In response to this public health crisis, American Indian and Alaska Native communities have created strategies to protect their young people by building resilience using localized Indigenous well-being frameworks and cultural strengths. These approaches to suicide prevention emphasize promotion of protective factors over risk reduction. A measure of culturally based protective factors from suicide risk has potential to assess outcomes from these strengths-based, culturally grounded suicide prevention efforts, and can potentially address several substantive concerns regarding direct assessment of suicide risk. We report on the Reasons for Life (RFL) scale, a measure of protective factors from suicide, testing psychometric properties including internal structure with 302 rural Alaska Native Yup’ik youth. Confirmatory factor analyses revealed the RFL is best described through three distinct first-order factors organized under one higher second-order factor. Item response theory analyses identified 11 satisfactorily functioning items. The RFL correlates with other measures of more general protective factors. Implications of these findings are described, including generalizability to other American Indian and Alaska Native, other Indigenous, and other culturally distinct suicide disparities groups.