Suicide Rates Rising: How This Public Health Crisis Affects Latinos

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Suicide rates have increased drastically across the United States from 1999-2016, according to a new report released by the CDC.

Suicide rates are highest among White and Native American/Alaska Native populations. However, suicide rates for Latinos and African Americans are continually rising, the data shows.

There were also significant increases in several states including Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Additionally, more than half the suicides in 2015 were among people with no known mental health conditions, according to an article in the Boston Globe.

On the heels of two recent celebrity suicides – Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain – the “data are disturbing,” Anne Schuchat of the CDC told SCNow.

“The widespread nature of the increase, in every state but one, really suggests that this is a national problem hitting most communities,” Schuchat said.

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Latinos and Mental Health

There are many factors that may contribute to the rising rates of suicide in the Latino population including:

  • In the Latino community, mental health problems often go unaddressed, largely due to stigma. In fact, the new CDC report noted that suicide rates among those with no known mental health issues were likely to be a racial/ethnic minority.
  • Latina teens exhibit more suicide attempts than their non-Latino White female and Latino male peers. 
  • Latino youth are far more likely than their peers to have mental health issues, which usually go untreated.
  • Latino families face tough finances and difficult travel before and during migration to the United States.
  • Latinos also face bullying at schools. They also face societal issues such as discrimination, poverty, and violence.

Implications for Change

The CDC recommends states use a comprehensive evidence-based public health approach to prevent suicide risks before it occurs.

They also suggest identifying and supporting persons at risk.

“I think this gets back to what do we need to be teaching people — how to manage breakups, job stresses,” said Christine Moutier, medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “What are we doing as a nation to help people to manage these things? Because anybody can experience those stresses. Anybody.”

If you know someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or planning self-harm, there are many resources available to help:

Learn more ways to improve Latino mental health!

By The Numbers By The Numbers

60

Percent

of Latinos earn less than $15/hour (vs. 39% of full-time workers overall).

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