Mental Health Research: Issues Facing Latino Kids


Suicide rates among Latina students
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This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review »

Latina youth have a very high rate of thinking about suicide

Latino females in grades 9-12 had the highest rate of suicidal ideation, at 25.6 percent, compared to 22.8 percent among their white peers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health’s assessment of Latino mental health based on results from the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS), a self-report survey of high school students.

Suicide rates among Latina studentsThe rate for Latino males of the same age group was much lower (12%), but it was still higher than that of white peers (11.5%). Latino females also reported the highest rate of suicide attempt (15.1% versus 9.8%), and Latino males reported a higher rate than their white peers (7.6% versus 3.7%).4

YRBSS survey results also indicated that 16.7 percent of Latino students had seriously considered suicide, 14.3 percent had at one point created a suicide plan, and 10.2 percent had attempted suicide.

All of these rates were higher than those reported by white and black students.6

Garcia, et al., conducted a cross-sectional study of data from the Minnesota School Survey (MSS), a population-based survey given to students in the 6th, 9th, and 12th grades in Minnesota public schools. They focused on the 3,178 students who identified as Mexican American, Puerto Rican, mixed Latino, or other Latin American in the 2004 MSS, 70 percent of whom were in the 9th grade.

Suicidal ideation was reported by 40 percent of 9th grade mixed Latinas and 29 percent of Latina-only students.

For males, results ranged from 15 to 20 percent.

Latino students report feelings of depression, sadness

hopeless and sad Latino student factTwenty-two percent of Latino youth have depressive symptoms, a rate higher than any minority group besides Native American youth.3

Results from the 2011 YRBSS indicated that 32.6 percent of Latino students reported feelings of hopelessness and sadness that continued for more than two weeks and resulted in decreased participation in activities they had previously enjoyed.4, 6

This is compared to 27.2 percent of white students and 24.7 percent of black students.

In the Garcia, et al. study, 25 percent of mixed Latinas reported increased emotional distress in the previous 30 days.7

More from our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review »

References for this section »

3. Guzman, A., Koons, A. & Postolache, T. Suicidal behavior in Latinos: Focus on the youth. Int J Adolesc Med Health 21, 431–439 (2009).

4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Mental Health and Hispanics. (2016). Available at: (Accessed: 16th December 2016)

6. Perou, R. et al. Mental Health Surveillance Among Children — United States, 2005–2011. 62, 1–35 (2013).

7. Garcia, C., Skay, C., Sieving, R., Naughton, S. & Bearinger, L. H. Family and Racial Factors Associated With Suicide and Emotional Distress Among Latino Students. J. Sch. Health 78, 487–495 (2008).

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