Suicide: Why are Young Latinas at Risk?

A national survey of high school students sheds like on a trend that the Hispanic community has long been aware of. Compared to black and white males and females, high-school-aged Latinas are the most likely to attempt suicide and to experience long bouts of depression.  Other studies show young Latinas also have the highest teen birthrates and the second highest high school dropout rate. Researchers contend that “cultural clashes with parents, social isolation, and poverty” are part of the problem.

Listen to a discussion of the reasons why young Latinas are at risk from the NPR program, “Talk of the Nation.”  Which social or cultural factors do you think make young Latinas especially vulnerable to depression and suicide?  (Are such factors or conditions prevalent in other communities.  How do men fit into this picture?) How would Durkheim assess these risk factors?  Would you say they are indicators of anomie and/or egoism?
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4 responses to “Suicide: Why are Young Latinas at Risk?

  1. The trends found amongst female Latinas are definitely of an egoistic suicide. Although I am not hispanic, I’m an immigrant child and I can relate to some of the struggles females in a new country have to endure. The hispanic girl probably has to be the main translator for her parents who don’t learn english. She has to guide her younger siblings and at the same time she’s thrown into a new world that completely clashes with her home life when she’s at school. The two identities she’s forms from school and home clash. I imagine the pressure of being the all-American girl isolates the girl from her family because to them this is foriegn and unacceptable,while at the same time if she tries to keep with her traditions and family’s beliefs, she is also isolated from her friends. So where can she find solace and a social support system that will accept her and the ecclectic identity she’s come to have? Durkheim would probably find this to be a classic case of a crisis of egosim. I can’t really see how it can an anomic suicide, but perhaps these girls feel stuck in their situations and don’t see anyway forward from the situation?

  2. I was in shock that young latinas have the highest suicide rate compared to other groups. There seems to be media coverage everday where a young white male or female committing suicide from depression, bullying etc. After listening to the discussion I realized all the challenges and responsibilities young latinas take on compared to other teenagers. There are factors such as language barriers, trying to make friends, and also adopting American customs. All groups deal with the common issues such as studying, making new friends, and trying to find their place. When your having a rough day you can always look forward to going home after school and be able to relx or vent your frustrations out to a family member/friend. Researchers said that one of the reasons was clashing with parents.Certain families are more conservative than others and issues like sex, drinking and drugs isn’t talked about or brought up. It’s uncomfortable to try to talk about so it doesn’t come up in coversation. This could be related to high teen birth rates. Especially at this age having a support system is important to help you stay strong and have someone to be able to talk to. All these issues could be related to egoistic suicide because individuals usually lack that social connection and having that since of belonging.

  3. K & A, both of your comments point to examples of social circumstances that have been shown (originally by Durkheim) to be risk factors for suicide. In both cases, they sound more like indicators of ANOMIE to me than EGOISM. To oversimplify, anomie refers to lack of moral integration while egoism refers to lack of social integration; anomie is more “cosmological” whereas egoism is more “materially” or “objectively” based in social relations. The young Latinas profiled here tended to be part of tightly-knit families. They were connected *socially* but anchor-less in a *moral* sense. Modern social “pathologies” related to identity and belonging Durkhiem classified as *anomie*.

    K, like you, I grew up with similar expectations and obligations even though I’m not Latina either. I think a good deal of these norms and expectations are characteristic of first and second generation immigrant families in general.

  4. When we were in class on Wednesday and we had that group work and we had to determine what gender and race were the most likely to attempt suicide my group thought that it was white girls. I was actually shocked to hear that it was Hispanics even though I don’t know why. Listening to the video I realized that young Hispanic girls have the issues just like every other girl, however they are dealing with immigration and family who might be here illegally. Maybe they are the first American born and are the only ones to learn English so she has to deal with a language barrier between her family st home and her friends and life outside of the home. Being a minority she could possibly be poor or live in a poverty stricken area. Also it is the same with education if your family at home is illerate that impacts the children, so when they came home they had no support. The same goes for contraceptives etc. The young girls are sometimes the only ones keeeping the family together when they should not that burden and that leads to depression and the attempted suicide. I found this interesting to learn I see a different side to it then I saw before.

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