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  • Author
    Jessie Guerrero
  • Co-author

    Shahrzad Bazargan-Hejazi, Ph.D., Chair of Medical Student Research Thesis

  • Title

    Immigration Status and Suicide among Youths: A Systematic Review

  • Abstract


    Immigration Status and Suicide among Youths: A Systematic Review

    By Jessie Guerrero

    Mentor(s): Shahrzad Bazargan-Hejazi, Ph.D., Chair of Medical Student Research Thesis

    Background: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. However, among adolescents, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death, making it a serious public health problem especially among young adults. In response to recent immigration actions and news, Latino/a adolescents with a family immigrant status, such as having a foreign-born or a non-citizen parent, report more worry and behavioral withdrawal from institutions and communities than do their counterparts with less vulnerable family immigrant statuses. In addition, an adolescents’ non-citizenship status can lead to greater unease and behavioral withdrawal, which in turn are associated with poor Latino/a adolescent adjustment and possible increased suicidal ideation.

    Objectives/Methods: To identify and summarize literature reports on family immigration or child/adolescent citizenship status in relation to suicidality.

    Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the current literature regarding childhood and family immigrant statuses and reports on their relationship to suicidal ideation and attempts. Studies were identified from searches in PubMed, PsychInfo and Google Scholar using combinations of keywords regarding childhood immigration status and suicidality. Studies were screened for relevancy, full-text articles were assessed for eligibility, data was systematically extracted, and articles were appraised for quality.

    Results: Eligibility criteria were met in 63 articles from 1990 to 2020. After only including articles that had the relevant United States participants, good or excellent quality, 6 articles remained. Of these studies, 50% were cross-sectional in design and 50% were cohort studies. Studies reported high levels of self-harm and suicidal ideation. Most childhood/family immigrant statuses were found to have a significant relationship with suicide ideation and attempts.

    Conclusion: The relationship between immigration status and suicidal behaviors in youth appears to vary by ethnicity. Latino/a adolescents are at an increased risk of suicidality and this can be influenced by the amount of time spent in the new country as well as intergenerational communication and conflicts between parents and their children. There is a clear and urgent need to do additional studies on this topic and to develop targeted public health interventions and psychosocial treatments aimed at preventing suicide in youth who are immigrants and/or have family members who are non-citizens.

    Keywords: Youth Immigration Status, Family Immigrant Status, Suicide, Suicide Attempt, Suicide Ideology, Childhood, Adolescent, Immigrant


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