Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 257–267 | Cite as

Duration of US residence and suicidality among racial/ethnic minority immigrants

  • Monique J. Brown
  • Steven A. Cohen
  • Briana Mezuk
Original Paper



The immigration experience embodies a range of factors including different cultural norms and expectations, which may be particularly important for groups who become racial/ethnic minorities when they migrate to the US. However, little is known about the correlates of mental health indicators among these groups. The primary and secondary aims were to determine the association between duration of US residence and suicidality, and 12-month mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders, respectively, among racial/ethnic minority immigrants.


Data were obtained from the National Survey of American Life and the National Latino and Asian American Survey. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine the association between duration of US residence, and suicidality and 12-month psychopathology.


Among Afro-Caribbeans, there was a modest positive association between duration of US residence and 12-month psychopathology (P linear trend = 0.016). Among Asians there was a modest positive association between duration of US residence and suicidal ideation and attempts (P linear trend = 0.018, 0.063, respectively). Among Latinos, there was a positive association between duration of US residence, and suicidal ideation, attempts and 12-month psychopathology (P linear trend = 0.001, 0.012, 0.002, respectively). Latinos who had been in the US for >20 years had 2.6 times greater likelihood of suicidal ideation relative to those who had been in the US for <5 years (95 % CI 1.01–6.78).


The association between duration of US residence and suicidality and psychopathology varies across racial/ethnic minority groups. The results for Latino immigrants are broadly consistent with the goal-striving or acculturation stress hypothesis.


Suicidality Migration Racial/ethnic minorities Psychopathology Psychiatric disorders 



B. Mezuk is supported by a career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (K01-MH093642-A1). The National Survey of American Life is sponsored by the NIMH (Grant # U01-MH57716) and the National Latino and Asian American Survey is sponsored by NIMH (Grant # U01-MH62209), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. The sponsors had no role in the conceptualization, design, analysis, interpretation, or presentation of the results.

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monique J. Brown
    • 1
    • 4
  • Steven A. Cohen
    • 1
  • Briana Mezuk
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Division of EpidemiologyVirginia Commonwealth University School of MedicineRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral GeneticsVirginia Commonwealth University School of MedicineRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.RichmondUSA

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