Different Ethnic Groups Present Different Suicide Risk Factors, Study Shows

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According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), about 8.3 million adults in the U.S. reported thinking about suicide last year. Although thinking of suicide does not necessarily mean committing a suicide, current prevention of suicide is troubling, because they are too simple and “one-size-fits-all.”



Twice as many people die by suicide as by homicide in the United States, said psychology professor Rheeda Walker. Suicide risk is not the same for everybody, and the risk factors which may lead to suicide for different ethnic groups vary, too.



Risk factors influenced by ethnic groups


Walker and her colleagues analyzed data collected for 336,482 adults, including ethnic lines of whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian or Pacific Islanders (A/PI), American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) and those who identify as multiracial.



The results are partly presented in the form below. In the form, a tick (√) means the ethnic group was effected by the factor, while a cross (×) means the risk factor showed no respondence to the ethnic group.


12-month depressionAlcohol abuse and dependenceMarijuana usage


What’s more, low income seems to particularly influence the A/PI group, for low income A/PIs were three times more likely to attempt suicide compared to A/PIs with a higher income.


Walker pointed out two conclusions: 1) risk factors are not universal among ethnic groups, and 2) depression was not a meaningful predictor of suicide attempts or thoughts for all of the groups.



"Overall, only psychological distress was consistently associated with suicide ideation and attempts. Other predictors were associated with suicide ideation or attempts and for some racial or ethnic groups, but not others," said Walker.


The research provides a window into new suicide risk profiles needed for a rapidly changing America. “When we ask people if they’ve thought about suicide in the past, we don’t note their race, or overemphasize depression and underplay their marijuana use, for example, we miss important opportunities to generate a risk profile that can lead to better prediction.” Added Walker.

3 Answers

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alas. black people can endure 12 mons depression but cant beat alcohol.
It's a rather complicated psychological process for a person to develop suicidal thoughts. There are too many factors that can affect a person's mental health. Don't overgeneralize!
Agree with you @Michael M.
I don't understand why people commit suicide, who doesn't want to live long and forever?
Dear Mikki, I remember feeling exactly what you expressed in your comment. I was young, energetic, enjoyed life and loved everything it had to offer. As a child, I had a talent for drawing and painting and eventually got a degree in art. I had a long and successful career as an illustrator, retail store planner, designer, etc. and retired early as Director of Store Planning and Design. I loved sewing, dyeing antique fabric for clothing, painting with India inks, water colors, learning to use pastels, etc.  Rheumatoid Arthritis, an incurable, extremely painful disease changed everything. Most days, my hands feel like stiff swollen claws. I feel like what makes me who I am has been stolen. I understand why people in chronic pain want to end their lives. I don’t want this for me, but finally, I understand how pain, any kind of relentless pain, whether physical or mental, can become unendurable and suicide becomes the way to end it when all else has failed.
I couldn't agree with you anymore! I too have rheumatoid arthritis that has become more than unbearable with pain as well as severe major depressive disorder(become more severe with recent unavoidable issues and pain).  
Suicidal ideation have been 0ccuring frequently for me in the recent last 13 months. While this scares me when I have a good day the bad days seem to be lots more frequent and rough.