METHODS. The data presented are drawn from a mixed-method pilot study that examined the contexts, experiences, and responses to suicide attempts from the perspective of a group of Colombian adolescent females (aged 13-17, x = 14.9). All data were collected between 2017 and 2018. Participants (n = 15) were recruited from a public hospital located in a low-income area in Bogota. Univariate descriptive were performed on all the numerical variables studied. Qualitative data were analyzed using a combination of content and thematic analysis. The analysis was divided into three steps: (a) data coding, (b) univariate statistics with quantified qualitative data, and (c) development and analysis of a matrix of coded text. The data coding and quantification was performed using Dedoose.
RESULTS. All participants reported exposure to chronic, escalating stressors at home (e.g., conflicts with caregivers), combined with episodic traumatic events (e.g., sexual assault). Conflicts with primary caregivers left the teens feeling isolated, unsupported, and hopeless. A traumatic event increased the girls’ negative feelings, leading to a suicide attempt as a means to end their emotional suffering. Most participants reported intent of dying (n = 14). Some carefully planned their attempts to maximize the likelihood of a deadly outcome (n = 3). Eight participants (53%) reported attempting suicide by overdosing, while five participants attempted suicide by cutting (33%). When the suicide attempts were disclosed or discovered, most caregivers reacted with perplexity and/or anger (n = 12). Caregivers’ responses to the teens’ suicide attempts further confirmed the girls’ feelings of isolation and lack of support.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS. This study provides further confirmation of the role that conflicts between the adolescent and her caregivers play in setting the conditions for suicidal behaviors among Latina adolescent females. To reduce suicidal behaviors among adolescent females in Bogota, public health efforts should address intra-familial conflict between teens and caregivers. Mental health providers serving suicidal teens should work with caregivers to improve their emotional response to their daughters’ suicidal crisis.