Structure, culture, and lethality: An integrated model approach to American Indian homicide and suicide

Christina Lanier
Dept. of Sociology, University of Delaware
July, 2006


American Indian lethal violence is an often-ignored area of investigation within sociological and criminological research. Interestingly, statistics indicate that homicide and suicide rates among American Indians are often higher than other racial/ethnic groups within the United States. Using homicide and suicide data from Indian Health Services, Centers for Disease control, this study utilizes the integrated model of homicide and suicide to investigate the structural and cultural factors that contribute to the production and/or direction of lethal violence American Indians. Specifically, this analysis examines the lethal violence rate (LVR) among American Indians within U.S. counties as well as the suicide-homicide ratio (SHR) to unravel the etiological underpinnings of lethal violence. In addition, the integrated model is also applied to lethal violence patterns among Whites and African Americans at the U.S. county-level to compare the applicability of the model. Findings indicate that partial support for the integrated model is found within the American Indian populations. Consistent across all groups is the positive relationship between higher levels of economic deprivation and total lethal violence rates. Directions for future research as well as policy implications of this investigation are discussed.