Why are Asian American Women at Risk for Suicide?
I ran across this post on the Disgrasian blog.
It talks about a new study that reconfirms a disturbing trend in the Asian American community.
Asian American women are at risk for suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts at rates higher than the national average.
This new University of Washington study found:
15.93 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American women have contemplated suicide in their lifetime, exceeding national estimates of 13.5 percent for all Americans…. Lifetime estimates of suicide attempts also were higher among U.S-born Asian-American women than the general population, 6.29 percent vs. 4.6 percent.
Other findings from the study include:
- The percentage of Asian-Americans who reported thinking about suicide increased the longer they lived in the U.S.
- Young Asian-Americans, between 18 and 34, had the highest estimates of thinking about (11.9 percent), planning (4.38 percent) and attempting suicide (3.82 percent) of any age group
- Asian-Americans who were never married reported the highest lifetime estimates of thinking about (17.9 percent) planning (7.6 percent) and attempting (5 percent) suicide.
- There were few major differences by ethnicity, although Chinese (10.9 percent) and Filipinos (9.76 percent) reported the highest rates of thinking about suicide.
The University of Washington study reiterates statistics from the US Health and Human Services Department that Asian American women age 15-24 have the highest suicide rate of all women.
Though the UW study does not seem to offer significant explanations for this high suicide rate, the Disgrasian blog suggests that the pressure to succeed and reluctance to seek treatment for mental health disorders are major factors.
One interesting thing about the UW study is that suicide rates seem to be higher for *native* born Asian American women than for immigrants to the USA. Indeed, another article on the study notes that “the longer an Asian-American immigrant had lived in the United States, the more likely she was to have considered suicide.”
Furthermore, it comments that ”while Asian Americans overall have lower-than-average suicide rates, U.S.-born Asian-American women are more likely than the average American to think about or try killing themselves.”
One would think that Asian immigrants also have a similar push to succeed and aversion to mental health treatment as native-born Asian Americans, yet there is a notable difference in suicide-related actions between the two groups.
So, in addition to the factors mentioned above, there seems to be something about the American environment itself (and being socialized in it) that fosters suicidal behaviors.
What that something is, I’ll leave to your imagination.
Here are some links to mental health resources for the Asian American community
-National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
-National Asian Women’s Health Organization
-US Government, Office of the Surgeon General (with links to Asian American health resources)