Research: Suicidal Ideation and Social Support among Black and Latinx Americans

September 2, 2022

A recent article titled “Self-reported anxiety and depression problems and suicide ideation among black and latinx adults and the moderating role of social support,” published in the Journal of Community Health (2022), written by Sharifa Z. Williams, Crystal Fuller Lewis, Peter Muennig, Daniele Martino & Kerstin Pahl, analyzed data from 1,503 Black and Latinx participants of the Washington Heights Community Survey to examine the effect of subjectively experienced problems with anxiety and depression on suicide ideation independent of depression diagnosis, and the role of social support as a moderator.

Having subjectively reported problems with anxiety and depression was identified as an independent predictor of past two-week suicide ideation after controlling for depression, emotional support, gender, and having a usual source of care. Respondents reporting moderate problems with anxiety and depression experienced an eight-fold increase in the odds of suicide ideation as compared to those who reported having no problems with anxiety and depression.

Study findings identified emotional social support as a protective factor, reducing odds of suicide ideation by 25%. This reinforces the importance of social connectedness for mental health. Importantly, when moderation effects were explored, having informational support reduced the deleterious effect of having moderate anxiety and depression problems on suicide ideation. This is a critically important finding as Black and Latinx communities often rely on informal networks for information, access to resources, and empowerment for important social justice causes. This greater reliance on informal networks among Black and Latinx individuals is often necessitated by experiences of adversity as well as a cultural orientation toward the collective 

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