Suicide risk factors vary by ethnic group

September 17, 2019

Approximately 8.3 million adults in the United States reported thinking about suicide last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While thoughts and deeds are clearly different, University of Houston professor of psychology Rheeda Walker has examined both and finds that current approaches to suicide prevention are troubling, because they usually consist of a "one-size-fits- all approach."

"It's important to realize that in the United States twice as many people die by suicide as by homicide, and as we talk more about suicide I want us to resist assuming that suicide risk is the same for everybody," said Walker, who reported her findings on sociodemographic and mental health predictors of suicide thoughts and attempts in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Walker and colleagues analyzed data collected for 336,482 adults who participated in the 2008-to-2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, dividing the list along ethnic lines to include whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian or Pacific Islanders (A/PI), American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) and those who identify as multiracial.

Among the highlights from Walker's findings:"Risk factors are not universal among ethnic groups," said Walker, who admits it is very common for mental health professionals to point to depression as the immediate reason for a death by suicide. "Depression was not a meaningful predictor of suicide attempts or thoughts for all of the groups." Walker's previous work identified protective factors among black adults as the reason depression may not rise as a precursor.

"Consistently across studies we see that African Americans are very religious compared to other groups and that may buffer the impact of depression in those groups," said Walker.

Walker also reports that the predictors for suicide attempts and suicide ideation, or thinking of the act, are different.

"Overall, only psychological distress was consistently associated with suicide ideation and attempts. Other predictors were associated with suicide ideation or attempts and for some racial or ethnic groups, but not others," said Walker.

Her research provides a window into new suicide risk profiles needed for a rapidly changing America, she said. The U.S. Census Bureau projections reflect a racial and ethnic composition that is rapidly changing. These projections suggest that the majority of the American population will be composed of "minority" individuals by 2044.

"When we ask people if they've thought about suicide in the past, but we don't note their race, or overemphasize depression and underplay their marijuana use, for example, we miss important opportunities to generate a risk profile that can lead to better prediction."
-end-


University of Houston

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.