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

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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.

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Acknowledgements

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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Correspondence to Monique J. Brown.

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Brown, M.J., Cohen, S.A. & Mezuk, B. Duration of US residence and suicidality among racial/ethnic minority immigrants. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 50, 257–267 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-014-0947-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-014-0947-4

Keywords

  • Suicidality
  • Migration
  • Racial/ethnic minorities
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychiatric disorders