Comparison of suicidality among Pacific Islanders in the Western Pacific and the United States
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University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1318
Background and Objective:
Islands in the Western Pacific have among the highest suicide rates in the world. Gaps in suicide prevention efforts and mental health care are compounded by a lack of adequate mental health infrastructure and qualified mental health professionals. Over the past few decades, seeking better opportunities for education, employment, and health care, people from the Pacific region have been migrating to the United States and its Territories in increasing numbers. Similarly, suicide rates have increased among Pacific Islander migrants. This study examines suicide data in the Pacific region and among Pacific Islander migrants in the US. The study maps the extent of the problem, summarizes research findings, and identify gaps in the existing literature for this understudied population.

A systematic review of the peer-reviewed publications, theses and dissertations, and government and agency reports, and other grey literature was conducted. For the references found, their citations were also examined to see if any of the citations were relevant.

Overall, there are few sources of information on Pacific Islander suicide. However, suicide rates among young Micronesian males have been as high as 100 per 100,000 among different island groups in the region. Rates have decreased over the past 40 years but are still high by global standards. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, as of 2019 the age-standardized suicide rate in the Federated States of Micronesia was 29.0 per 100,000. Among males, it was 44.3 per 100,000. In comparison, the global age-standardized rate was 9.0 per 100,00 for both sexes and 12.6 per 100,00 for males.

Suicide prevention efforts are needed to abate high rates of suicidality. Efforts must include awareness, enhanced training, screening, and the development and evaluation of interventions tailored to the needs of Pacific Islander young people.