Extended family and friendship support and suicidality among African Americans

  • Ann W. Nguyen
  • Robert Joseph Taylor
  • Linda M. Chatters
  • Harry Owen Taylor
  • Karen D. Lincoln
  • Uchechi A. Mitchell
Original Paper



This study examined the relationship between informal social support from extended family and friends and suicidality among African Americans.


Logistic regression analysis was based on a nationally representative sample of African Americans from the National Survey of American Life (N = 3263). Subjective closeness and frequency of contact with extended family and friends and negative family interaction were examined in relation to lifetime suicide ideation and attempts.


Subjective closeness to family and frequency of contact with friends were negatively associated with suicide ideation and attempts. Subjective closeness to friends and negative family interaction were positively associated with suicide ideation and attempts. Significant interactions between social support and negative interaction showed that social support buffers against the harmful effects of negative interaction on suicidality.


Findings are discussed in relation to the functions of positive and negative social ties in suicidality.


Family Friendship Suicide Informal social support 



The preparation of this manuscript was supported by Grants from the National Institute on Aging to Ann W. Nguyen (P30AG043073) and Robert Joseph Taylor (P30AG1528) and from the National Institute for General Medicine to Linda M. Chatters (NIGMS R25GM058641-15).

Compliance with ethical standards

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 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann W. Nguyen
    • 1
  • Robert Joseph Taylor
    • 2
  • Linda M. Chatters
    • 2
  • Harry Owen Taylor
    • 3
  • Karen D. Lincoln
    • 1
  • Uchechi A. Mitchell
    • 4
  1. 1.Edward R. Roybal Institute On Aging, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.George Warren Brown School of Social WorkWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Division of Community Health SciencesUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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