Gender and ethnic differences exist in suicidal ideation, plan, and attempt among adolescents in the U.S. However, limited research has used theoretically-informed approaches to integrate how cultural and classic risk factors together account for suicide-related pathways among vulnerable populations. Informed by the interpersonal theory of suicide, the present cross-sectional study examined gender differences in the association between a cultural (i.e., discrimination) and classic (i.e., depressive symptomatology) risk factor, and suicidality among youth of Latin American heritage.
A total of 390 Latinx adolescents (ages 13-18; 50% female) attending a high school in Southern California, U.S.A. completed a series of questionnaires that included measures of depressive symptoms, suicidality (including ideation, past attempts, and likelihood of future behavior), perceived discrimination, and demographics.
We found that discrimination was associated with increased suicidality among Latinx adolescents. The discrimination-suicidality association was stronger for girls versus boys, such that girls who experienced greater discrimination demonstrated the highest levels of suicidality. Although depression was also significantly associated with suicidality, the discrimination x gender interaction was found above and beyond the main effect of depressive symptomatology and covariates. Additional analyses revealed significant gender and moderation effects only for suicidal ideation and not for attempts.
These findings indicate that the relationship between discrimination and suicidality (particularly ideation) is more pronounced for Latinx girls than boys. This study also highlights the importance of drawing on theory-driven and culturally informed work that incorporates classic and cultural correlates of suicidality among diverse subpopulations.

Copyright © 2021 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.