Prevalence and Correlates of Lifetime Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Attempts Among Latino Subgroups in the United States

Lisa R. Fortuna, MD, MPH; Debra Joy Perez, PhD, MPA; Glorisa Canino, PhD; William Sribney, MS; and Margarita Alegria, PhD

Published: April 16, 2007

Article Abstract

Objective: Limited data are available to understand the prevalence and correlates of suicidal behavior among U.S. Latino subgroups. This article compares the prevalence of lifetime suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among major U.S. Latino ethnic subgroups and identifies psycho-sociocultural factors associated with suicidal behaviors.

Method: The National Latino and Asian American Study includes Spanish- and English-speaking Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and other Latinos. A total of 2554 interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish by trained interviewers between May 2002 and November 2003. Lifetime psychiatric disorders were measured using the World Health Organization-Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Descriptive statistics and logistic models were used to determine demographic, clinical, cultural, and social correlates of lifetime suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

Results: The lifetime prevalence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among Latinos was 10.1% and 4.4%, respectively. Puerto Ricans were more likely to report ideation as compared with other Latino subgroups, but this difference was eliminated after adjustments for demographic, psychiatric, and sociocultural factors. Most lifetime suicide attempts described by Latinos were reported as occurring when they were under the age of 18 years. Any lifetime DSM-IV diagnoses, including dual diagnoses, were associated with an increased risk of lifetime suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among Latinos. In addition, female gender, acculturation (born in the United States and English speaking), and high levels of family conflict were independently and positively correlated with suicide attempts among Latinos, even among those without any psychiatric disorder.

Conclusions: These findings reinforce the importance of understanding the process of acculturation, the role of family, and the sociocultural context for suicide risk among Latinos. These should be considered in addition to psychiatric diagnoses and symptoms in Latino suicide research, treatment, and prevention, especially among young individuals.

Volume: 68

Quick Links: Depression (MDD) , Suicide

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