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Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2009 Oct-Dec;21(4):431-9.

Suicidal behavior in Latinos: focus on the youth.

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  • 1University of Maryland, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Mood and Anxiety Program, 685 W. Baltimore Street, Rm.502 MSTF, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


The multicultural nature of American society presents clinicians and mental health providers with the unique challenge of working with mentally ill patients from many different cultural backgrounds. Although research investigating suicidal behavior among Latinos is limited, the literature suggests the presence of two distinct phenomena: (a) the prevalence of completed suicide among Latinos as a group is lower than the national rate and (b) the prevalence of suicidal behavior among Latino youth between the ages of 10-24 years is greater than in other ethnic groups, especially among females. Acculturation, family conflicts, physical abuse and sexual abuse, among other factors, have been suggested to increase the risk of depression and suicide among young Latinos. To ameliorate suicidal behavior among Latino youth, more research is needed about specific risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately, suicide prevention. Research focused on identifying risk and mediating factors for suicidal behavior in young Latinos is particularly relevant, given the size and rapid growth of the Latino population in the United States of America.

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