Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide Attempt Among Indigenous Māori Youth in New Zealand: The Role of Family Connection

Terryann C. Clark, Elizabeth Robinson, Sue Crengle, Theresa Fleming, Shanthi Ameratunga, Simon J. Denny, Linda H. Bearinger, Renee E. Sieving, Elizabeth Saewyc


The purpose of this study was to (1) describe risk and protective factors associated with a suicide attempt for Māori youth and (2) explore whether family connection moderates the relationship between depressive symptoms and suicide attempts for Māori youth. Secondary analysis was conducted with 1702 Māori young people aged 12–18 years from an anonymous representative national school-based survey of New Zealand (NZ) youth in 2001. A logistic regression and a multivariable model were developed to identify risk and protective factors associated with suicide attempt. An interaction term was used to identify whether family connection acts as a moderator between depressive symptoms and a suicide attempt. Risk factors from the logistic regression for a suicide attempt in the past year were depressive symptoms (OR = 4.3, p < 0.0001), having a close friend or family member commit suicide (OR = 4.2, p < 0.0001), being 12–15 years old (reference group: 16–18 years) (OR = 2.7, p < 0.0001), having anxiety symptoms (OR = 2.3, p = 0.0073), witnessing an adult hit another adult or a child in the home (OR = 1.8, p = 0.001), and being uncomfortable in NZ European social surroundings (OR = 1.7, p = 0.0040). Family connection was associated with fewer suicide attempts (OR = 0.9, p = 0.0002), but this factor did not moderate the relationship between depressive symptoms and suicide attempt (χ2 = 2.84, df = 1, p = 0.09). Family connection acts as a compensatory mechanism to reduce the risk of suicide attempts for Māori students with depressive symptoms, not as a moderating variable.


Adolescence, indigenous, Māori, suicide attempt, protective factors, moderation, compensatory mechanism, risk factors, family connection

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18357/ijih71201112350


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