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Unnatural deaths in reindeer-herding Sami families in Sweden, 1961-2001
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Forensic Medicine. (Arcum)
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Forensic Medicine. (Arcum)
2010 (English)In: International Journal of Circumpolar Health, ISSN 1239-9736, Vol. 69, no 2, 129-137 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVES: Unnatural deaths among Indigenous populations, including the Swedish Sami, occur more often than among the general population. To find prevention strategies, we explored the circumstances of the unnatural deaths of members of reindeer-herding Sami families.

STUDY DESIGN: The number of deaths from among a cohort of 7,482 members of reindeer-herding Sami families were retrieved from the National Board of Health and Welfare for the years 1961- 2001.

METHODS: An evaluation of the information from autopsy records at the National Board of Forensic Medicine, police reports, and available medical records identified 158 unnatural deaths. These were then analysed in detail.

RESULTS: Transport-related deaths and suicides were the most common unnatural deaths among Swedish reindeer-herding Sami family members. Suicides contributed to 23% of all deaths, road traffic accidents to 16%, and snowmobile fatalities to 11%. The accidents generally reflected an "outdoor lifestyle" and the working conditions were characterized by the use of off-road vehicles such as snowmobiles. Half of the number of victims tested positive for alcohol and alcohol abuse was documented in 15% of all victims.

CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that alcohol is an important factor in preventing unnatural deaths among reindeer-herding Sami, together with increased safety of both on-road and off-road transportation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 69, no 2, 129-137 p.
Keyword [en]
alcohol, Indigenous populations, reindeer-herding, Sami; suicide, unnatural deaths
National Category
Forensic Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-40914ISI: 000278825100003PubMedID: 20356469OAI: diva2:403586
Available from: 2011-03-14 Created: 2011-03-14 Last updated: 2016-05-24Bibliographically approved

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