More than one in five aboriginal adults living off-reserve say they've contemplated suicide at some point in their lives, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

The prevalence of suicidal thoughts was higher among First Nations people living off-reserve, Métis and Inuit adults than among non-aboriginal adults, with the exception of Métis men, whose tendencies closely mirrored those of non-aboriginal men, suggests a Statistics Canada study based on the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey and the 2012 Canadian Community Survey  Mental Health. 

Suicidal thoughts were reported by 26 per cent of off-reserve First Nations women surveyed, compared to 23.8 per cent for Inuit women and 23.4 per cent for Métis women. Among non-aboriginal women surveyed, 13.8 per cent reported contemplating suicide.

Compared to non-aboriginal men (11.1 per cent), about twice as many Inuit men (23.1 per cent) and off-reserve First Nations men (21.4 per cent) reported suicidal thoughts. Métis men (14.9 per cent) had similar rates of suicidal thoughts as non-indigenous men.

Mood disorders, drug use affect rates

The study make links between the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and mood disorders and perceived self-worth. For example, First Nations men with mental illness (47 per cent) were more than three times as likely as First Nations men without mental illness to have such thoughts.

Factors such as heavy drinking, smoking, general health and divorce also affected the incidence of suicidal tendencies, the report suggests.

Statistics Canada warns the results have certain limitations, including that the stigma associated with suicide could lead to under-reporting, and the study does not include First Nations adults living on-reserve.