SUICIDE: Why are Young Latinas at Risk?

February 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Durkheim would consider the young Latinas suicide rate as anomie. Anomie suicide refers to the lack of moral regulation. It is the pathological result of a lack of moral direction, when one feels morally adrift. Latinos for the most part are Catholics. As we know there is a high rate of white male who are Protestants who commit suicide, but why are these Catholic Latinas committing suicide at an alarming rate, since there is so much support and collectiveness in the Catholic church during worship and other spiritual gathering? Keep in mind Catholics don’t believe in abortion, birth control nor premarital sex. Often these Latina girls are often first generation american born. The pressure they are under is astounding. They have to adhere to their religion and the guilt that comes with that. Being an interpreter for their parents or even the whole language barrier they often face is isolating, Also the whole machismo male dominance of the Hispanic community, which leads to teen domestic violence, which is prevalent to that culture. Add to the aforementioned, Latinos are on the low end of the socioeconomic and educational ladder. Unlike Asians, whose parents apply pressure with all good intentions upon their children to academically succeed, the same pressure is not applied to the Latina. Also with the Asian culture reputation is important. One of the worst things a child or any family member can do is to shame the family. In the Hispanic community, such pressures are not as prevalent or important. When a baby comes, it’s welcomed. The baby adds pressure, lack of education ostracizes the Latina from her peers. Weight is another issue in the Hispanic culture, like African American women, hispanic woman battle with the bulge as well, which adds pressure and isolation. The western standard of beauty does not help the matter. All of these pressures, cultural traditions, society pressures and rules, peer pressure and of course, let’s not forget racism and sexism all contributes to suicide among Latinas. Durkheim would classify the high suicide rate as Anomie. These young girls have been thrust into more social pressure that can mentally break an adult, no less a child. The feeling of being anchorless from peers and society can also contribute to suicide. The feelings that these young girls get of not knowing what to do and how to act is a state of “anomie.”. .

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2 responses to “SUICIDE: Why are Young Latinas at Risk?

  1. I agree with many of the points that you have made. I would argue that sexism, perhaps not racism may contribute to greater suicide rates among Latina females. Although such a possibility falls in line with anomie, I think that one can equally say the same for African American females. They, however, have lower rates than both white and Latina females. In the category of race, one can easily argue that this is more of a factor for them.

  2. Excellent analysis, K — you specify an array of critical social variables, which appear to be related to suicide; many are considered common “risk factors” for suicide.

    A common criticism of Durkheim and work that falls in this (“variable analysis”) tradition, is that it’s overly reductionist and the concepts used are too crude, e.g., how Durkheim lumps together very different kinds of people and practices in his general religious categories (Protestants, Jews, and Catholics). Similarly, this recent suicide research may be overlooking important variation among Latinas (e.g., national origin of family, strictness of Catholicism, etc.). When there are such vast differences among people in this category, many question the idea that there is a single coherent “Latino culture” or “Asian culture.”

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