Friday, December 08, 2006

Young Hispanic women and elderly Asian women are at exceptionally high risk of attempting or committing suicide

Sewell Chan:

In New York City, teenage Hispanic girls are hospitalized for depression at a rate of 388 per 100,000 (compared with 374 for teenage white girls) and are hospitalized after attempting suicide or talking about it at a rate of 95.5 per 100,000 (compared with 88.5 for teenage white girls). Asian women 65 and older in the city have a suicide rate of 11.6 per 100,000, more than double the rate for non-Hispanic white women in that age group. Those figures were cited by a psychiatrist, Dr. Lloyd I. Sederer, the executive deputy commissioner of the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Sharon E. Carpinello, commissioner of the State Office of Mental Health, said that Central American and South American countries, especially Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Honduras, had some of the lowest suicide rates in the world, while Asian countries like Sri Lanka, China, Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore have some of the highest suicide rates.

Observing that Hispanics in New York City report the highest levels of emotional distress — two to six times the level for whites, blacks and Asians — Ms. Carpinello said, “What is there about immigrating to this country and taking up residence that drives up the suicide rate?

A variety of explanations were offered at the hearing, which was led by Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera of the Bronx, chairman of a standing committee on mental health.

Rosa M. Gil, the founder of Comunilife, a mental health agency, cited cultural factors. “Young Hispanic girls’ lives are marked by a deep sense of despair and hopelessness,” she said. “Through the imaginary life of television they see the other world, full of affluence, that is always trying to create additional needs and wants in them.” She added, “While the Latino family allows and even expects boys to rebel and be bad, girls are expected to be compliant and good,” resulting in internalized anger.

A psychiatrist at the New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Antonio A. Abad, said that Hispanic adolescents reported higher rates of alcohol use than other youngsters and said there has been a surge in drug use in some Hispanic communities — both risk factors associated with suicide.

Since Hispanic suicide rates are lower in Central and South America than they are in the United States, one possible solution would be to stop Hispanic immigration to the United States.

Hispanic Family Values?

Some years nearly one out of five young Latinas tries to kill herself



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