A cross-sectional study of disparities in suicide ideation between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white female adolescents

Sultan Neslihan Karabulut, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Suicide is recognized as a major public health and clinical problem in the United States. One fifth of adolescents in the United States seriously consider suicide each year, and about 8% of high school students attempt suicide at least once. Hispanic ethnicity constitutes a risk factor for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, with Hispanic females at highest risk. Nevertheless, published studies on suicidal behavior in Hispanic female adolescents are extremely limited and focus on suicidal ideation in school samples. Given the severity of the problem and the paucity of information on this topic, more research on ethnic differences in suicidal ideation in community samples of high-risk children is urgently needed. This cross-sectional study delineated differences in suicide ideation between Hispanic female adolescents and non-Hispanic white female adolescents attending a mental health clinic and examined the association of ethnicity with suicide ideation independent of other known risk factors. Data were accrued between June 2004 and December 2008 in a Harris County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Association (MHMRA) clinic. Data were limited to adolescents who were Harris County Residents between the ages of 10 to 17 years when they were admitted to the clinic. The objective of this study was to determine whether differences in socio-demographic and clinical variables play a significant role in ethnic disparities in suicide ideation. A series of logistic regressions were performed to estimate the association between ethnicity and suicide ideation after controlling for potentially confounding factors. Results showed an interaction between Hispanic ethnicity and having a history of treatment: Hispanic girls having history of treatment had lower odds of having suicide ideation than Hispanic girls without such a history. After adjusting for treatment history, family problems, substance use, juvenile justice involvement, current treatment, and age, Hispanic girls had 1.86 times the odds of having suicide ideation than non Hispanic girls (OR=1.86, 95% CI=0.88-1.46). Although additional studies on community samples of high risk adolescents are needed to verify these findings, our study highlights the fact that Hispanic girls are at significantly higher risk and need to be targeted for prevention and treatment efforts.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Karabulut, Sultan Neslihan, "A cross-sectional study of disparities in suicide ideation between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white female adolescents" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1470344.