Discrimination increases suicidal ideation in black adolescents regardless of ethnicity and gender

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Background: Discrimination is a common experience for Blacks across various developmental periods. Although much is known about the effect of discrimination on suicidal ideation of adults, less is known about the same association in Black youth. Aim: We examined the association between discrimination and suicidal ideation in a national sample of Black youth. We also explored gender and ethnic differences in this association. Methods: We used data from the National Survey of American Life-Adolescents (NSAL-A), 2003-2004. In total, 1170 Black adolescents entered the study. This number was composed of 810 African American and 360 Caribbean Black youth (aged 13 to 17 years). Demographic and socioeconomic factors were controls, perceived discrimination was the predictor, and lifetime suicidal ideation was the outcome. Logistic regression was used to test the association between perceived discrimination and suicidal ideation in the pooled sample, as well as based on ethnicity and gender. Results: In the pooled sample of Black youth, higher perceived discrimination was associated with higher odds of suicidal ideation (Odds Ratio (OR)=1.09; 95%Confidence Interval (CI)=1.02-1.17). This association was significant net of age, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. We did not find interactions between perceived discrimination and ethnicity or gender on suicidal ideation. Perceived discrimination was associated with suicidal ideation in African Americans (CI=1.09; 95%CI=1.01-1.17) and Caribbean Blacks (CI=1.16; 95%CI=1.03-1.32), males (CI=1.11; 95%CI=1.00-1.25), and females (CI=1.08; 95%CI=1.00-1.16). Conclusion: Discrimination jeopardizes the mental health of Black youth. In a universal pattern, discrimination is associated with suicidal ideation in Black youth. More research is needed on this topic.




Assari, S., Lankarani, M. M., & Caldwell, C. H. (2017). Discrimination increases suicidal ideation in black adolescents regardless of ethnicity and gender. Behavioral Sciences, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/bs7040075

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