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Latino Youth Risk Suicide

Latinos born in the United States are at an increased risk of depression and drug use compared with native-born Latinos(Escobar, Hoyos, & Gara, 2000). Similarly, positive relationships have been found between acculturation and suicidality (Zayas,Bright, Alvarez-Sanchez, & Cabassa, 2009). As a Latina acculturates, cultural protections including close familial bonds, spirituality, and collectivism tend to weaken, and it has been posited that her risk of adverse mental health outcomes including suicidal ideation and attempts increase (Turner et al., 2002;Zayas & Pilat, 2008).


An adolescent’s relationships with peers, family, and adults outside of the family are emerging as factors influencing risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. For example, attempt rates are higher in adolescents who report lower peer emotional sup-port (Borowsky, Resnick, Ireland, & Blum,1999). Having fewer social networking opportunities and weaker friendship ties have also been linked to suicidal behaviors, particularly for female adolescents (Bearman &Moody, 2004; Roberts & Chen, 1995). “Connectedness’’ (Whitlock, 2006) describes linkages that encompass dyadic forms of relationships between individuals, belonging and reciprocal positive regard, and explains risk and protective mechanisms for suicidal behavior within social systems (Wy-man et al., 2010).


Latina adolescents’ risk of suicide may also be influenced by their families’ cultural status, which encompasses factors such as language use at home, place of birth, and citizenship (Rogler, Malgady, & Rodriguez,1990; Tortolero & Roberts, 2001), and is an important antecedent to a range of psychosocial outcomes (Marin & Flores, 1994). For example, Latinos born in the United States are at an increased risk of depression and drug use compared with native-born Latinos(Escobar, Hoyos, & Gara, 2000). Similarly, positive relationships have been found between acculturation and suicidality (Zayas,Bright, Alvarez-Sanchez, & Cabassa, 2009). As a Latina acculturates, cultural protections including close familial bonds, spirituality, and collectivism tend to weaken, and it has been posited that her risk of adverse mental health outcomes including suicidal ideation and attempts increase (Turner et al., 2002;Zayas & Pilat, 2008).


IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community gain an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ and parents’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.


Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally sustaining practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic youth-centered environment that honors the unique values of your students and parents, visit our website at www.iinii.org, or contact us at iinii@iinii.org or 1800-507-2502.



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