Monday, January 28, 2008

Latina Girls More Likely to Attempt Suicide

Just learned this piece of bad news, via the Council on Contemporary Families:

According to an article in WaPo last week by Laura Sessions Stepp, Latinas ages 12 to 17 –- the largest minority group of girls in the country –- are more likely to try to take their lives than any other racial or ethnic group their age. Twenty-five percent say they’ve thought about suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 15 percent attempt it, compared with approximately 10 percent of white and black teen girls. Luis Zayas, a psychologist and professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis, is in the middle of a five-year study of more than 150 young Latina girls who have attempted suicide. As experts note, Latina girls rarely seek help partly because they and their parents are suspicious of mental health services and believe in keeping family troubles in the family. And, as Stepp notes, American popular culture encourages girls to be sexy and assertive, but the families of many young Latinas prize girls who are modest and submissive. As they’re pulled in different directions, there’s increasing evidence of their distress.