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Young Hispanic Women More Likely To Attempt Suicide

Armen Hareyan's picture


The Washington Post on Tuesday examined the issue ofsuicide among young Hispanic women. According to the Post,Hispanic women ages 12 to 17 are the largest minority group of girls in the U.S., and theyare more likely than girls of any other racial or ethnic group in that agerange to attempt suicide. CDC research indicates 25% of Hispanic girls havethought about suicide and 15% of them have attempted suicide, compared with 10%of black and white girls.

Luis Zayas -- a psychologist and social work professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. -- said that if Hispanic girls who haveattempted suicide were living in the countries where they or their parents wereborn, they might have stronger ties to relatives, communities and customs.However, in the U.S., they "struggle with feelings of powerlessness andfrustration, torn between an American popular culture that encourages them tobe sexy and assertive, and family expectations that they be modest andsubmissive," the Post reports.

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Many young Hispanic women do not seek help, mostly because they are suspiciousof mental health services or feel their problems should be kept within theirfamilies, the Post reports. Carolina Hausman, a social worker whoassists Zayas, suggested that schools and neighborhoods need preventive mentalhealth services aimed at Hispanics.

Zayas said, "Crossing the border can be hazardous to Latinas' health.Until we understand the cultural conflict, we will not be able to preventthis" (Sessions Stepp, Washington Post, 1/22).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.