Abstract: Factors Impacting Suicide Ideation Among Young Adult Immigrants during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Factors Impacting Suicide Ideation Among Young Adult Immigrants during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Ahwatukee B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Sherinah Saasa, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Ty Beard, MSW, MSW Student, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Rebekah Hill, MSW, MSW Student, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Keeley Doyle, MSW, MSW Student, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Abha Rai, PhD, Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background & Purpose: Research shows that in the United States, emerging and young adults aged 18-34 have increased risk for suicide. While there is extensive literature dedicated to examining suicide risk and protective factors among at-risk groups, much less is known about these factors among immigrant populations, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Evidence suggests that systemic disadvantages have led to disproportionate rates of COVID-19 exposure, economic disadvantage, increased discrimination and stigmatization among immigrants and racial minorities during the COVID-19 pandemic, with implications on mental health. Emerging studies indicate a growing trend of increased risk for suicide behavior among immigrants and ethnic minorities compared to the general population. This study aimed to explore prevalence and biopsychosocial predictors of suicidal ideation among young adult immigrants in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hypothesized that discrimination, financial strain, limited social connection and mental health distress will be significantly associated with suicide ideation.

Method: Cross sectional survey data was collected in 2021 using a self-administered online questionnaire. The sample consisted of 419 first- and second-generation immigrants across the United States. For this study, we analyzed a sub-sample of young adults aged 18-34 (N =138, average age 26, SD= 4.3). Our independent variable was a binary measure of suicide ideation. Predictor variables included gender, substance use-coping (Brief Cope Scale; a =.87), depression and anxiety symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire; a =.87), Covid-induced financial worries, limited social connection, and everyday discrimination (Everyday Discrimination Scale; a =.85) Control variables included age, immigrant generation, race, relationship status, income, and education level. Because the outcome measure was dichotomous, logistic regression was conducted to analyze the data.

Results: Descriptive statistics showed that the sample consisted of 70% female, 45% first-generation immigrants and 55% single. Racial/Ethnic composition consisted of 31% Black, 39% Asian, 17% Hispanic and 11% Other. Approximately 42% of the sample endorsed having suicide ideation since the onset of Covid-19 and 36% reported moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety. At the bivariate level, substance use-coping, discrimination, mental health distress and financial worries were significantly associated with suicide ideation (p <.05). Results from the multivariate analyses (Pseudo-R2 = .456) showed that higher rates of perceived discrimination (OR = 1.42, p = 0.001), and elevated depression and anxiety symptoms (OR = 1.24, p = 0.017) were associated with greater odds of suicidal ideation post COVID-19. Additionally, individuals who endorsed worries about finances due to COVID-19, were five times more likely to have suicidal ideation compared to those who did not (OR = 5.08, p = 0.011).

Conclusion & Implications: Findings underscore the detrimental impact of discrimination and financial stress on suicide risk among immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Implications for social work practice include provision of holistic assessment and supports with particular attention to discrimination experiences, financial worries, and mental health needs for at-risk immigrant groups. More research is needed to determine contextual influences on suicide risk during the pandemic on mezzo and macro levels.