This is a study of suicides in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO), a region with a large proportion of indigenous Nenets. To our knowledge, this is the first study investigating the problem of suicide in the indigenous and non-indigenous populations of the Russian Arctic. Our study aim was to assess suicide rates in the indigenous and non-indigenous populations of the NAO, as well as the socio-demographic characteristics, differences in suicide methods, seasonal variations, and the potential role of alcohol in suicides in these two populations.
We conducted a retrospective, population-based mortality study of suicides in the NAO, using data from the autopsy reports of suicide victims in the region in 2002-2012. Sociodemographic data were obtained from passports and medical records, and then linked to total population data from the 2002 and 2010 censuses. Suicide rates for indigenous Nenets and the non-indigenous population were calculated according to different socio-demographic characteristics, and corresponding relative risks for these two populations were compared. Variations in suicide methods, seasonal variations, and variations in the day of the week suicides occurred in the NAO were compared with national data from the Russian Federal Statistics Service (Rosstat). Data on the presence of alcohol in the blood and blood alcohol content in suicide cases from the NAO were compared with data from the neighboring Arkhangelsk Oblast.
Suicide rates in the NAO were higher than corresponding national figures. Suicide rates were higher among the indigenous Nenets than the non-indigenous population, and were associated with different socio-demographic characteristics. We showed different relative frequencies of suicide by hanging, cutting, and firearm, as well as differences in suicide occurrence by month and day of the week in the NAO when compared with Russia as a whole.
The study results and conclusions may be useful to create suicide prevention programs that are targeted to different population groups in the Russian Arctic.