Methods: In the absence of any systematic review on the role of Latinx families in adolescent suicide, a scoping study was designed to identify and map out the literature. Four online databases were selected to identify peer-reviewed articles written in English and published between 2000 and 2021 that focused on suicidal behavior(s) among Latinx adolescents living in the mainland US and mentioned family in the results or discussion sections. A total of 1,710 articles were screened. Screening left 592 non-duplicate full-text articles for researchers to assess for study eligibility. Of those, 107 articles met the criteria for inclusion. The first author developed an initial coding template, and data regarding publication, methodology, family role in suicide, and family involvement in suicide prevention were extracted and charted. The authors analyzed the full-text articles thematically, specifically employing a template analysis approach to code the data; they met throughout the analysis process to review and track coding decisions and analytic interpretations. An interrater reliability rate of 80% or higher was reached on 75% of the codes.
Results: Overall, most articles (74%; n = 79) focused on the etiology of Latinx adolescent suicide and also excluded family members in their data collection (72%; n = 77). Nonetheless, many articles accounted for family-related factors in their analysis (87%; n = 93). Among those articles, 19 suicide-related family factors were identified, most of which came from articles published in the last ten years (74%; n = 69). Few studies (19%; n = 20) included complex family-related factors (e.g., familial communication and familism). When the studies actively involved family members (28%; n = 30), they commonly used a risk lens (77%; n = 23). Mothers were the family members most often involved in the studies (83%; n = 25), with one study focusing on fathers.
Conclusions and Implications: Suicide-related research with Latinx individuals has expanded in the last three decades, but there continues to be a focus on etiological studies rather than interventions. Existing research lacks within-group diversity (e.g., Mexican, Cuban, heterosexual, etc.) and rarely actively involves family members. Our results call attention to Latino families’ exclusion from the literature and highlight how these families are an undervalued resource in our fight against Latinx adolescent suicide. We used these findings to develop a mixed-method project actively involving Latinx caregivers to obtain a baseline of their suicide prevention communications and explore ways to encourage prevention behaviors. As social workers, as we work to address this complex problem, we are strategically positioned—and ethically required— to promote Latinx family inclusion in suicide prevention.