Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Transcult Psychiatry. 2014 February ; 51(1): 47–72.


Copyright © 2013 Walls, Hautala, & Hurley; published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


This paper brings forth the voices of adult Aboriginal First Nations community members who gathered in focus groups to discuss the problem of youth suicide on their reserves. Our approach emphasizes multilevel (e.g., individual, family, and broader ecological systems) factors viewed by participants as relevant to youth suicide. Wheaton’s conceptualization of stressors (1994; 1999) and Evans-Campbell’s (2008) multilevel classification of the impacts of historical trauma are used as theoretical and analytic guides. Thematic analysis of qualitative data transcripts revealed a highly complex intersection of stressors, traumas, and social problems seen by community members as underlying mechanisms influencing heightened levels of Aboriginal youth suicidality. Our multilevel coding approach revealed that suicidal behaviors were described by community members largely as a problem with deep historical and contemporary structural roots as opposed to being viewed as individualized pathology.