Fellow 2007-08

Michael J Kral



The suicide rate among Inuit youth in the territory of Nunavut, Canada, is among the highest in the world. To date, Professor Kral has conducted three research projects on Inuit suicide and well-being. During his Center appointment, he will begin a fourth project to document community-based strategies that can prevent this social epidemic and create collaborative networks to share success stories across the Inuit communities.

Previous research has documented that when a community takes responsibility for its own wellness/mental health activities and programs, especially when youth are involved centrally, the positive outcomes exceed those achieved by outside, largely Western-Anglo, interventions. While these community-based programs are active, youth suicides come to a halt, youth-related crimes drop significantly, and high school attendance increases.

Professor Kral’s project will take a very close look at what Inuit communities are doing in this regard and begin to document successful strategies. In one study, he will survey community-based activities and programs across the four Inuit regions of Canada. A second study will undertake an ethnographic examination of several “model” communities where major improvements in the well-being of Inuit youth, including suicide prevention, have taken place.

None of the community action taking place has yet been documented in any systematic fashion, and writing up these studies should help to transfer knowledge from one community to another. Professor Kral also hopes to help create collaborative community networks so that communities can share knowledge laterally with each other. This project is in partnership with three major Inuit organizations.