[YSPNetwork] study: Latina Adolescents & Suicide
donna.noonan at state.or.us
Mon Nov 14 10:17:07 PST 2011
Below is a summary of a new research article on Latina Adolescents and Suicide. There is a link to the full article (open-source). From SPRC's Spark (www.sprc.org<http://www.sprc.org>).
Latina Adolescents and Suicide
Zayas, L. H., Hausmann-Stabile, C., & Kuhlberg, J. (2011). Can better mother-daughter relations reduce the chance of a suicide attempt among Latinas? Depression Research and Treatment, 403602. doi:10.1155/2011/403602.
Concerned that adolescent Latinas have a higher suicide attempt rate than their peers from other ethnic groups, a research team from Washington University explored the relationships among Hispanic cultural involvement, mother-daughter relations, and the risk of suicidal behavior among young Latinas living in the United States. Given that family conflict is a risk factor for suicide, and family communication and connectedness protects against suicide, the team theorized that Latina girls who were less involved with Hispanic culture (and more involved in the mainstream culture of the United States) would experience more family and maternal conflict, based on the differences between the two cultures, which in turn would raise their suicide risk.
The team interviewed and assessed 232 adolescent Latinas between the ages of 11 and 19, 122 of whom had attempted suicide in the previous six months. The mother-daughter relationship was based on an assessment of "muturality" - that is, "how attuned girls felt with their mothers" across six variables: empathy, engagement, authenticity, diversity, empowerment, and zest. An "acculturation" assessment was used to measure involvement in Hispanic (and U.S.) culture.
Previous research has indicated that "among Latina adolescents, low levels of family support and high levels of family conflict are associated with more internalizing behaviors" which raise the risk of suicidal behaviors. These internalizing behaviors include "withdrawn behavior (i.e., prefers being alone; does not enjoy very much; lacks energy; shy or timid), anxious depressive (i.e. frequently crying; feels unloved, worthless; worries), and somatic complaints (i.e., nightmares; constipation; headaches; tired)."
An analysis of the assessments revealed that Latina adolescents who had attempted suicide reported less mutuality with their mothers and higher levels of the internalizing behaviors associated with suicide risk. Girls with more Hispanic cultural involvement had better relations with their mothers, lower levels of the internalizing behaviors associated with suicidality, and a lower risk of attempting suicide. However, withdrawn-depressive behaviors were associated with in a statistically significant increase in suicide attempts even for Latina adolescents who had good relations with their mothers.
The research did not find any differences among the girls based on the country of origin of their families.
The authors of this study suggest that therapies traditionally used in the United States, which often stress individualism, may conflict with the family-centered values of Latino culture. The authors recommend using family therapies to treat Latina adolescents at risk for suicide. These therapies promote communication in the family, strengthen the mother-daughter relationship, and thus may reduce the risk of suicide for young Latinas. The authors also recommend helping Latino families understand how adolescent development and the acculturation process can strain the relationship between Latina adolescents and their parents, and how family engagement and communication can help relieve this conflict - and reduce the risk of a suicide attempt.
Link to Full Text<http://www.hindawi.com/journals/drt/2011/403602/>
Donna G Noonan, MPH, CHES
Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Oregon Public Health Division
800 NE Oregon, Ste 772
Portland, OR 97232
Join the Youth Suicide Prevention Network listserv at http://listsmart.osl.state.or.us/mailman/listinfo/yspnetwork
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