Abstract: Reasons for Suicide Among Black Young Adults in the U.S: A Latent Class Analysis Approach (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Reasons for Suicide Among Black Young Adults in the U.S: A Latent Class Analysis Approach

Friday, January 13, 2023
South Mountain, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Janelle Goodwill, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Chicago
Background and Purpose: Suicides have significantly increased among Black youth in the U.S. in recent years, though it remains unclear if these trends persist into young or emerging adulthood. Further, even less is known about the reasons why individuals begin to consider suicide as a viable option. The current study, therefore, aims to redress these gaps by identifying specific reasons for suicide among a sample of 276 Black young adults who reported experiencing suicidal thoughts within the past two weeks.

Methods: Participants were recruited from a Qualtrics panel and asked to complete one online survey between May and June 2020. Eligibility criteria required potential participants to (1) identify as Black or African American; and (2) be between 18 and 30-years-old. Reasons for suicide were measured using 8 indicators from the Positive and Negative Suicide Inventory (Osman et al., 1998). Latent class analysis was used to detect underlying patterns in Black young adults’ reasons for considering suicide. Model fit was evaluated using the following criteria: AIC; BIC; Sample Size Adjusted Bayesian Information Criteria; Entropy; and the Lo-Mendell-Rubin adjusted likelihood ratio test (LMR-LRT). Analyses were conducted using Mplus version 8.4 (Muthén & Muthén, 2019).

Results: The most commonly reported reason for considering suicide among the entire sample was feeling hopeless about the future. Findings for 1 to 6 latent classes were examined individually to identify the best-fitting model; the 3-class model was retained. indicators. The first class makes up 32.43% of the sample (n=85) and is described as the “Somewhat hopeless and other reasons not captured” class. The second class is described as “Accomplished but extremely lonely and sad” and makes up 8.93% of the sample (n=23). The third class is described as “Pronounced feelings of failure, hopelessness, and lack of accomplishment” and makes up nearly 59% of the sample (n=154). Next, multinomial logistic regression tests were then used to measure associations between covariates and latent class membership. Mental illness diagnosis was associated with significantly lower odds of being assigned to latent class #2 when treating respondents in latent class #3 as the reference group (OR = 0.22, p <.001). Additionally, a one unit increase in severity of anxiety symptoms is significantly associated with a 17.7% decrease in the odds of being assigned to latent class # 1 (OR = 0.82, p<.001), and 16.4% decrease in the odds of membership in latent class #2. Total cutoff scores from the PHQ-9 indicate that 14.83% of participants who considered suicide within the past 2 weeks met criteria for minimal levels of depression, while total scores on the GAD-7 reveal 17.87% of participants met criteria for minimal levels of anxiety.

Conclusions and Implications: Suicide prevention interventions should account for the specific reasons for suicide highlighted by Black young adults in this sample. Culturally salient clinical treatments and interventions that are readily accessible will be required when working to address the specific mental health needs of young Black women and men, with a particular focus on issues related to hopelessness and feelings of failure.