Breaking News
March 24, 2019 - Hidden differences between pathology of CTE and Alzheimer’s disease discovered
March 24, 2019 - Knowing causative genes of osteoporosis may open door to more effective treatments
March 24, 2019 - Toilet-seat based cardiovascular monitoring system getting ready to begin commercialization
March 24, 2019 - New model for intensive care identifies factors that send ill patients to ICU
March 24, 2019 - Recommendations Issued for HSCT in Multiple Myeloma
March 24, 2019 - Deep brain stimulation provides sustained relief for severe depression
March 24, 2019 - “Statistical significance” may soon be a thing of past?
March 24, 2019 - Researchers track effects of epigenetic marks carried by sperm chromosomes
March 24, 2019 - AHA News: Family Adopts Three Children With Three Different Heart Conditions
March 24, 2019 - Research into opioid painkillers could provide clues for safer drug development
March 23, 2019 - Lung cancer survivor recounts her lifetime struggles
March 23, 2019 - Radial and femoral approach for PCI achieve similar results in terms of survival
March 23, 2019 - Study sheds light on the optimal timing of coronary angiography in NSTEMI patients
March 23, 2019 - Excess hormones could cause a condition that can lead to blindness in women, study finds
March 23, 2019 - Dramatic shifts in first-time opioid prescriptions bring hope, concern
March 23, 2019 - Antidepressant drugs may not work when neurons are out of shape
March 23, 2019 - TTUHSC El Paso to establish endowed chair in neurology through a major grant
March 23, 2019 - New device approved by FDA for treating patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure
March 23, 2019 - People with peripheral artery disease have lower Omega-3 Index, shows research
March 23, 2019 - Trigger warnings have minimal impact on how people respond to content, shows research
March 23, 2019 - Gilead Announces Data From Two Studies Supporting Further Development of GS-6207, a Novel, Investigational HIV-1 Capsid Inhibitor as a Component of Future Long-Acting HIV Therapies
March 23, 2019 - Selfish genetic elements amplify inflammation and age-related diseases
March 23, 2019 - Study provides new understanding of how the brain recovers from damage caused by stroke
March 23, 2019 - CRISPR/Cas libraries could revolutionize drug discovery
March 23, 2019 - Allergic reaction during pregnancy may alter sexual-development in offspring’s brain
March 23, 2019 - Seeing through a robot’s eyes helps those with profound motor impairments
March 23, 2019 - Recent research shows that ease of breastfeeding after C-section differs culturally
March 23, 2019 - Newly discovered parameters offer more control over efficient release of drugs
March 23, 2019 - ‘De-tabooing’ of abortion- Women would like more support from health care community
March 23, 2019 - Anti-TB drugs can increase susceptibility to Mtb reinfection
March 23, 2019 - New survey indicates need of attention to neglected tropical diseases
March 23, 2019 - Innovative in vitro method to develop easy-to-swallow medicine for children and older people
March 23, 2019 - Sugary drinks could raise risk of early deaths finds study
March 23, 2019 - Lian wins ENGINE grant for stem-cell-based therapy to treat Type 1 diabetes
March 23, 2019 - Overall, Physicians Are Happy and Enjoy Their Lives
March 23, 2019 - Researchers discover how blood vessels protect the brain during inflammation
March 23, 2019 - CDC study shows modest improvement in optimal hospital breastfeeding policy
March 23, 2019 - Family-based prevention program to reduce alcohol use among older teens
March 23, 2019 - Remote monitoring of implanted defibrillators in heart failure patients prevents hospitalizations
March 23, 2019 - Appropriate doffing of personal protective equipment may reduce healthcare worker contamination
March 23, 2019 - Window screens can suppress mosquito populations, reduce malaria in Tanzania
March 23, 2019 - Researchers discover new biomarker for postoperative liver dysfunction
March 23, 2019 - Pregnancy history may be linked to cognitive function in older women, finds study
March 23, 2019 - Study shows ticagrelor is equally safe and effective as clopidogrel after heart attack
March 23, 2019 - FDA Approves First Drug for Postpartum Depression, Zulresso (brexanolone)
March 23, 2019 - New guidelines outline new treatment management for psoriasis
March 23, 2019 - Thermally abused cooking oil may promote progression of breast cancer
March 23, 2019 - High-fructose corn syrup fuels growth of colon tumors in mice
March 23, 2019 - Partnership aims at establishing best practices to promote diversity in clinical trials
March 23, 2019 - New study examines presence of microbes in tap water from residences, office buildings
March 23, 2019 - Early life trauma may affect brain structure, contribute to major depressive disorder
March 23, 2019 - NIH starts clinical trial of drug to treat cravings associated with opioid use disorder
March 23, 2019 - Cervix bacteria, immune factors could be a warning signal of premature birth, reports new research
March 23, 2019 - Worst-ever emergency care performance figures underscore the need to focus on staffing
March 23, 2019 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Cancer
March 23, 2019 - Mouse model validates how ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria affect acne
March 23, 2019 - Individual amygdala neurons respond to touch, imagery and sounds
March 23, 2019 - Combination of two topical creams can prevent cancer
March 23, 2019 - Study suggests depression screening when assessing African-Americans for schizophrenia
March 23, 2019 - New electronic support system for choosing drug treatment based on patient’s genotype
March 23, 2019 - First-of-its-kind study provides pregnancy statistics of imprisoned U.S. women
March 23, 2019 - Marinus Pharmaceuticals Initiates Phase 3 Study in Children with PCDH19-Related Epilepsy
March 23, 2019 - Laparoscopy: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
March 23, 2019 - Shellfish allergies: can they be treated?
March 23, 2019 - Toilet seat heart monitoring system
March 23, 2019 - Researchers identify way to improve common treatment for PTSD
March 23, 2019 - High potency cannabis use linked to psychosis finds study
March 23, 2019 - Evoke Pharma Submits Response to FDA Review Letter for Gimoti NDA
March 23, 2019 - Tracking HIV’s ever-evolving genome in effort to prioritize public health resources
March 23, 2019 - Scientists grow most sophisticated brain organoid to date
March 23, 2019 - ADHD drug raising risk of psychosis
March 22, 2019 - FDA approves brexanolone, first drug developed to treat postpartum depression
March 22, 2019 - Gruesome cat and dog experiments by the USDA exposed
March 22, 2019 - Ball pits used in children’s physical therapy may contribute to germ transmission
March 22, 2019 - Long-term use of inexpensive weight-loss drug may be safe and effective
March 22, 2019 - FDA Approves Sunosi (solriamfetol) for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Associated with Narcolepsy or Obstructive Sleep Apnea
March 22, 2019 - Anti-Müllerian Hormone Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
March 22, 2019 - Finding the right exercise, diet aids for HIV patients
March 22, 2019 - Health Plans For State Employees Use Medicare’s Hammer On Hospital Bills
March 22, 2019 - Researchers develop new tool for imaging large groups of neurons in living animals
As U.S. suicides rates rise, Hispanics show relative immunity

As U.S. suicides rates rise, Hispanics show relative immunity

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

The young man held the medication in his hand — and considered using it to end his life.

But then he “put it down and said, ‘No. I need help,'” before heading to a Laredo, Texas, emergency room, said Kimberly Gallegos, who at the time earlier this year was a mobile crisis worker for a local mental health center.

Gallegos was helping evaluate whether the patient, a Latino in his early 30s, should be immediately hospitalized or could go home safely until seeing an outpatient doctor.

He returned to the home he shares with his mother and a sibling. The family agreed to lock up the medication — which belonged to a family member — and watch out for any problematic behaviors and other warning signs of suicide, Gallegos recalled.

The man’s experience illustrates a “suicide paradox,” experts say. Even though Latinos face economic disadvantages and other stress in their lives, their suicide rate is about one-third that of non-Hispanic whites, both in Texas and nationally.

Experts attribute the relatively low suicide rate among Latinos to the culture’s strong family and community support systems, which appear to provide some degree of protection.

“It definitely did make me feel a lot more comfortable knowing that now that the family was aware of what he was going through and experiencing, that they would be a lot more vigilant with him,” Gallegos said.

In Texas, the suicide rate among non-Hispanic whites has been steadily increasing during the past 16 years, from 13.4 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2000 to 19.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2016. Meanwhile, the rate has remained largely unchanged among Hispanics, with 6.7 suicides per 100,000 residents in 2016 — the same as the national rate.

Nationwide, suicides have increased nearly 30 percent since the turn of the century.

As a group, Latinos face obstacles that can affect their health and well-being: They earn less than non-Hispanic whites, and are more likely to lack health insurance coverage. In 2017, 16.1 percent of Hispanics were uninsured compared with 6.3 percent of non-Hispanic whites, hampering access to mental health care and other treatment. In addition, Latino immigrants contend with the challenges of moving to a new country, sometimes after leaving violence and other traumatic conditions at home.

But the practice of “colectivismo,” the building of a latticework of relationships through extended family, work colleagues and friends, is prevalent in the Latino community and can help provide an emotional safety net, said Luis Garcia, who has developed suicide prevention programs for Latino youth in California. Even activities such as regular church picnics or salsa dancing can help, said Garcia, vice president of cultural diversity at Arcadia, Calif.-based Pacific Clinics.

“Latinos or Hispanics have a preference to work in groups,” Garcia said. “It’s something that, believe me, we practice on a daily basis.”

Ties That Bind — And Fray

To be sure, Latinos are a multifaceted population from numerous countries who shouldn’t be viewed through a single lens or set of assumptions, Garcia and other researchers stressed. And not all family or community relationships are necessarily healthy.

Still, when immigrant families assimilate and ties to the Latino culture fray, so do the protective effects, according to a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Researchers, who analyzed suicidal thoughts and attempts, found that those inclinations increased as Latinos spent more years in the U.S. and started losing their fluency in Spanish and connections to Latino social networks and identity.

In addition, Latino youth appear more vulnerable to suicide attempts than white teens. In 2017, 8.2 percent of Hispanic high school students attempted suicide in the prior year compared with 6.1 percent of whites and 9.8 percent of blacks, according to federal data.

Still, the higher rate of teen suicide attempts has not resulted in a corresponding increase in suicide deaths among Latinos, for reasons that are unclear, said Luis Zayas, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the book “Latinas Attempting Suicide: When Cultures, Families and Daughters Collide.”

One possibility, Pacific Clinics’ Garcia said, is that the attempt is a teen’s cry for help and attention, and there may be an extended cultural support system to fall back on.

Sometimes, though, vulnerable individuals must be encouraged to lean on that support. Sarai, a 15-year-old Latina in Southern California who requested that her full name not be used, credits a mental health counselor at Pacific Clinics with helping her reach out to friends and family, rather than bottle up her feelings.

Sarai’s problems manifested when she began cutting herself. Her family did not notice because she wore long sleeves to cover the marks on her forearms.

“I thought every time I did it, that it would let out some of the frustration and anger and sadness that I had,” Sarai said.

One day, she found herself sitting on the kitchen floor, looking at the bleach in the sink cabinet and contemplating suicide. “I was just looking at the bottle of bleach and thinking, ‘This is it. I’m just going to do it.’ But then I heard my mom’s footsteps, and it totally snapped me out.”

Still, the experience scared Sarai enough that she told her family that she needed to talk to someone about her anxiety, and they sought professional help.

Sarai’s counselor persuaded her to share her feelings rather than to inflict pain on herself, the Latina teen said.

Over time, Sarai opened up to her older sister about her history of cutting, calling her up late one night when she was tempted to start again. “We talked ’til probably 3 in the morning,” Sarai recalled. The inclination to hurt herself “completely went away,” she said.

Cynthia Rodriguez, who has counseled Sarai for about a year and a half, said she encouraged the teen to not hide her emotional struggles and “to take advantage” of the support of close friends.

Sarai eventually told a few friends that she used to cut herself. “They became like my little second family,” she said.

Missing Data?

While family and community support might partially explain the suicide paradox, it’s likely not the only factor. It may also be that some Latino suicides are misclassified, in part due to the stigma associated with it, said Ian Rockett, a professor emeritus of epidemiology at West Virginia University School of Public Health, and a longtime researcher on suicide.

Federal suicide data, which is based on death records, relies on information compiled by local medical examiners or coroners, family and others, Rockett said. It can be more difficult to sort out what happened with an opioid overdose or when a car careens into a tree, he said.

One clue is a note. One of Rockett’s studies, published earlier this year, found that nearly 33 percent of non-Hispanic whites committing suicide left a note compared with 26.5 percent of Hispanics and 19.6 percent of non-Hispanic blacks.

Back in Laredo, Gallegos learned that the young man who had contemplated suicide believed suicide was against his family’s religion and that he had brought shame upon his family even by harboring suicidal thoughts.

Once he realized his mother didn’t hold such beliefs, his tense posture began to ease, said Gallegos, who now works as a quality management adviser for the Laredo-based mental health center.

“He was a lot calmer,” Gallegos said. “He was grateful that his mom was there.”

Want To Talk?

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, with an option for Spanish speakers (1-888-628-9454).

Prefer to chat online? Go to the Lifeline’s homepage — https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ — and click on the “chat” button in the top right corner.

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles