Associations between risk behaviors and suicidal ideation and suicide attempts: do racial/ethnic variations in associations account for increased risk of suicidal behaviors among Hispanic/Latina 9th- to 12th-grade female students?

Abstract

The objective of this study was to identify factors that may account for the disproportionately high prevalence of suicidal behaviors among Hispanic/Latina youth by examining whether associations of health risk behaviors with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts vary by race/ethnicity among female students. Data from the school-based 2007 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey were analyzed. Analyses were conducted among female students in grades 9 through 12 and included 21 risk behaviors related to unintentional injuries and violence; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including human immunodeficiency virus; physical activity; obesity and weight control; and perceived health status. With the exception of physical activity behaviors and obesity, all risk behaviors examined were associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Associations of risk behaviors with suicidal ideation varied by race/ethnicity for 5 of 21 behaviors, and for 0 of 21 behaviors for suicide attempts. Stratified analyses provided little insight into factors that may account for the higher prevalence of suicidal behaviors among Hispanic/Latina female students. These results suggest that the increased risk of suicidal behaviors among Hispanic/Latina female students cannot be accounted for by differential associations with these selected risk behaviors. Other factors, such as family characteristics, acculturation, and the socio-cultural environment, should be examined in future research.

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