Limited data is available to understand the prevalence and correlates of suicidal behavior among U.S. Latino subgroups. This paper compares the prevalence of lifetime suicide ideation and suicide attempts among major U.S. Latino ethnic subgroups and identifies psycho-sociocultural factors associated with suicidal behaviors.
The National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) includes Spanish and English speaking Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and other Latinos. Descriptive statistics and logistic models were used to determine demographic, clinical, cultural and social correlates of lifetime suicide ideation and attempts.
The lifetime prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts among Latinos was 10.2% and 4.4%, respectively. Puerto Ricans were more likely to report ideation as compared to other Latino subgroups but this difference was eliminated after adjustments for psychiatric and sociocultural factors. Most lifetime suicidal 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 attempts among Latinos. In addition, female gender, acculturation (born in U.S. 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.
These findings reinforce the importance of understanding the process of acculturation, the role of family and 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.