The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 30, Issue 3–4, pp 351–369 | Cite as

Acculturation, Familism and Mother–Daughter Relations Among Suicidal and Non-Suicidal Adolescent Latinas

  • Luis H. Zayas
  • Charlotte L. Bright
  • Thyria Álvarez-Sánchez
  • Leopoldo J. Cabassa
Original Paper


We examined the role of acculturation, familism and Latina mother–daughter relations in suicide attempts by comparing 65 adolescents with recent suicide attempts and their mothers to 75 teens without any attempts and their mothers. Attempters and non-attempters were similar in acculturation and familistic attitudes but attempters report significantly less mutuality and communication with their mothers than non-attempters. Mothers of attempters reported lower mutuality and communication with their daughters than mothers of non-attempters. Small increments in mutuality decreased the probability of a suicide attempt by 57%. Acculturation and familism do not appear to play major roles in suicide attempts but relational factors may. Instituting school-based psychoeducational groups for young Latinas, particularly in middle school, and their parents, separately and jointly, and focusing on raising effective communication and mutuality between parents and adolescent daughters are important primary prevention strategies.


Latina/Hispanic adolescents Acculturation Suicide attempts Familism Mother–daughter relations 



Support for this paper was provided by grant R01 MH070689 from the National Institute of Mental Health to Luis H. Zayas. Additional support was provided by the Center for Latino Family Research. We are grateful to the girls and mothers who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis H. Zayas
    • 1
  • Charlotte L. Bright
    • 2
  • Thyria Álvarez-Sánchez
    • 1
  • Leopoldo J. Cabassa
    • 3
  1. 1.Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Columbia University, NYS Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence, New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA

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