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J Clin Psychiatry. 2014 Apr;75(4):399-407. doi: 10.4088/JCP.13m08548.

Relationship between acculturation, discrimination, and suicidal ideation and attempts among US Hispanics in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions.

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Mount Sinai School of Medicine Psychiatry Box #1230, 1 Gustave L. Levy Pl, New York, NY 10029



Acculturation is the process by which immigrants acquire the culture of the dominant society. Little is known about the relationship between acculturation and suicidal ideation and attempts among US Hispanics. Our aim was to examine the impact of 5 acculturation measures (age at migration, time in the United States, social network composition, language, race/ethnic orientation) on suicidal ideation and attempts in the largest available nationally representative sample of US Hispanics.


Study participants were US Hispanics (N = 6,359) from Wave 2 of the 2004-2005 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (N = 34,653). We used linear χ(2) tests and logistic regression models to analyze the association between acculturation and risk of suicidal ideation and attempts.


Factors associated with a linear increase in lifetime risk for suicidal ideation and attempts were (1) younger age at migration (linear χ(2)(1) = 57.15; P < .0001), (2) longer time in the United States (linear χ(2)(1)= 36.09; P < .0001), (3) higher degree of English-language orientation (linear χ(2)(1) = 74.08; P <.0001), (4) lower Hispanic composition of social network (linear χ(2)(1) = 36.34; P < .0001), and (5) lower Hispanic racial/ethnic identification (linear χ(2)(1) = 47.77; P <.0001). Higher levels of perceived discrimination were associated with higher lifetime risk for suicidal ideation (β = 0.051; P < .001) and attempts (β = 0.020; P = .003).


There was a linear association between multiple dimensions of acculturation and lifetime suicidal ideation and attempts. Discrimination was also associated with lifetime risk for suicidal ideation and attempts. Our results highlight protective aspects of the traditional Hispanic culture, such as high social support, coping strategies, and moral objections to suicide, which are modifiable factors and potential targets for public health interventions aimed at decreasing suicide risk. Culturally sensitive mental health resources need to be made more available to decrease discrimination and stigma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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