Abstract: Examining the Relationship between Gender and Suicide in Hispanic Youth: Findings from the National Violent Death Reporting System (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

352P Examining the Relationship between Gender and Suicide in Hispanic Youth: Findings from the National Violent Death Reporting System

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Tatiana Villarreal-Otalora, LCSW, Ph.D. Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Orion Mowbray, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Porter Jennings, LCSW, PhD Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents in the U.S. Rates of suicide vary by demographic characteristics including age and ethnicity. Hispanic adolescents face an increased risk of suicide in comparison to their non-Hispanic peers. Scholars attribute suicide in this population to a confluence of developmental, cultural, familial, and social problems. However, much of the findings on this topic are derived from female Hispanic participants only, thus limiting a holistic view of the phenomena and subsequent culturally sensitive interventions across genders. To address this gap, we examine factors associated with Hispanic youth suicide in both males and females, including whether demographic characteristics, mental health problems, alcohol use, and additional factors are associated with suicide.

Method: Data is from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), which includes all violent deaths from 27 states in the U.S., collected each year from 2003 to 2015. NVDRS data includes reports from death certificates, as well as coroner, law enforcement and toxicology reports. For our study, a subsample of Hispanic youth aged 13-18 were included (N = 302). To examine suicide, a binary dependent measure identified whether an individual’s cause of death was reported as suicide or not. Additional binary measures in the data included whether an individual had any suspected alcohol use, current mental health issues, family relationship problems, and peer problems. Demographic measures included age and gender. A multivariate logistic regression examined whether age, gender, suspected alcohol use, mental health, peer, and family relationship problems were associated with suicide-related death.

Results: Among this sample, there were more males (76.21%) than females (29.79%). Most individuals in the sample were identified as having no current mental health problems (68.87%), no suspected alcohol use (74.50%), and no current family relationship (75.50%) or peer problems (72.19%).

The multivariate logistic regression showed that Hispanic teens with family relationship problems showed higher odds of suicide as compared to those with no reported family relationship problems (OR = 7.41; p < .01). Also, Hispanic youth suspected of consuming alcohol showed an increased likelihood of committing suicide as compared to those with no reported alcohol use issues (OR = 1.04; p < .01). Additionally, mental health (OR = 22.48; p < .01) and problems with peers (OR = 13.12; p < .01) significantly increased the odds of suicide for Hispanic youth, as compared to those teenagers with no identified mental health or peer relationship problems. Age and gender were not significantly associated with suicide.

Conclusions and Implications: Mental health, alcohol use, family, and peer problems were identified as factors associated with an increased likelihood of suicide in Hispanic youth. Contrary to previous research, our results showed no association between gender and suicide. These findings emphasize the importance of developing suicide interventions across all Hispanic youth and suggest that attention to both micro and macro level factors is necessary when engaging in suicide-related assessment and interventions with this population.