News & Announcements

Suicide and Church Attendance among African Americans and Black Caribbeans

Posted: March 03, 2012

A new study published in Archives of Suicide Research reports on a study that examined the relationship between suicidal behavior and church attendance by African Americans and black Caribbeans, the study is titled Church-based social support and suicidality among African Americans and Black Caribbeans. The suthors found that (1) a sense of closeness to other members of the congregation helps protect churchgoers from suicidal ideation, (2) frequent interaction with church members is higher among those who have made suicide attempts, (3) frequency of church attendance is not protective against suicidality, and (4) negative interactions with other church members are not related to suicidal behavior. This research used data from the National Survey of American Life to explore the relationship between church attendance, social support, and suicidality among African Americans and black Caribbeans.

The authors of the article based on this research write that “Research on suicidal behavior has clearly established that religion, and in particular, religious service attendance serves as a protective factor for suicidality.” They point out that the relationship between suicidality and religion has often been used to explain the relatively low rate of suicide among African Americans. The study sought to clarify the relationship of church attendance and social support to suicidal behavior among both African Americans and black Caribbeans, given the similar role that the church plays in both communities. The research did not find any significant differences between the two groups.

Read more on the Suicide Prevention Resource Center website. Read the abstract of the study.

KIDSCOUNT Data Snapshot on Children Living in High-Poverty Communities

Posted: March 01, 2012

Nearly 8 million of America’s children live in high-poverty areas—about 1.6 million more since 2000—according to a new KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) show that about 7.9 million, or 11 percent, of the nation’s children are growing up in areas where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level—about $22,000 per year for a family of four. In 2000, 6.3 million kids, or 9 percent, were living in such communities, which often lack access to resources that are critical to healthy growth and development, including quality education, medical care and safe outdoor spaces.

“Kids in these high-poverty areas are at risk for health and developmental challenges in almost every aspect of their lives, from education to their chances for economic success as adults,” said Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and data at the Casey Foundation. “Transforming disadvantaged communities into better places to raise children is vital to ensuring the next generation and their families realize their potential.”

The data also highlight the children most likely to live in areas of concentrated poverty. These include youth in the south and southwest, as well as those in urban and rural areas. African-American, American Indian and Latino children are six to nine times more likely to live in high-poverty communities than their white counterparts.

The new numbers parallel data released in the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which indicated a significant jump in child poverty over the last decade, as well as an increase in kids living in low-income families. The new snapshot includes the latest data for states and for the 50 largest cities, as does the KIDS COUNT Data Center, a source for the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. The Data Center allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.

Read more on the Annie E. Casey Foundation website. Download the KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot (pdf).

Counselors Aim to Steer Young Latinas Away from Suicide

Posted: February 28, 2012

Reyna Flores knows pain and despair, particularly that experienced by young Latina women. Flores, a counselor at Salinas-based Sunrise House, says young Latinas are often abused — partly victims of their gender and age, partly victims of a culture that values family over independence. These conflicts lead many to think there is no way out — save one: taking their own lives.

And, statistics show, young Latinas who feel trapped in such situations are turning to suicide as a way of stopping the pain. "Suffering is going on behind closed doors," Flores, 25, said. She counsels young Latinas who have been bullied and abused. Some come from broken homes or feel neglected by their parents. Others regularly injure themselves by cutting themselves to numb their emotional pain, and many have considered suicide, she said.

Across the country, almost 14 percent of high school students thought seriously about killing themselves in the 12 months before the 2008-09 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this age group, Latinas were among the most vulnerable: One in five said they had seriously considered suicide. Fifteen percent said they had come up with a plan to kill themselves and 11 percent — almost twice the rate among white girls — said they had attempted suicide at least once, according to the survey.

Suicide attempts have been consistently higher among Latinas than among black or white high school girls since 1991, the first year for which data are available on the CDC website. Researchers and health professionals don't understand these trends completely, but some studies suggest these girls may struggle with living between two cultures — the American culture they experience with their friends and the Latino culture that fills their homes.

Read more on the Californian website.

Blacks with Higher Education Less Likely to Seek Mental Health Services

Posted: February 27, 2012

Young adult black Americans, especially those with higher levels of education, are much less likely than their white counterparts to seek mental health services, according to a new study titled Race Differences in the Receipt of Mental Health Services Among Young Adults. The study was published in the February issue of Psychological Services.

Reasons for this reluctance may include shame and a lack of knowledge and trust among patients, and a lack of cultural understanding among caregivers. "Past research has indicated people with higher education levels are more likely to seek out and receive mental health services. While that may be true for whites, it appears the opposite is true for young adult blacks," study author Clifford Broman, of Michigan State University, said in a journal news release. He examined data from more than 11,000 people, ages 13 to 26, who took part in the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

The analysis also revealed that whites who previously used mental health services were more likely to receive additional mental health services, but the opposite was true for blacks. Previous research suggests that blacks receive a lower quality of care when using mental health services and report unpleasant experiences and unfavorable attitudes after receiving care, Broman noted. "Practitioners need to address the concerns of black clients in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner, and during exit interviews, they should ask what is appropriate and what didn't work," Broman said. He also found that young black adults who had been diagnosed with depression were more than 20 times more likely to use mental health services than those without depression.

Read more on Medline Plus website. Read more on the American Psychological Association website. Read the full-text of the article.

Providing Therapy Across Different Cultures

Posted: February 24, 2012

When immigrants face depression, therapy may not be the first option they explore for relief. When they do seek counseling, they often encounter a cross-cultural struggle to understand and be understood by American practitioners. In a new Talk of the Nation series on NPR the host talks to Stacey Lambert, director of the Latino Mental Health Program, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, and Karen Hanscom, executive director, Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma, about the barriers immigrants face in seeking therapy. Excerpts from the interview:


This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Mental health professionals believe that many of those most in need are among the most difficult to reach. According to census data, 40 million immigrants live in the United States. Almost all come from different cultural traditions, and many speak English as a second language. Relatively few practitioners are trained to work through the barriers of tradition, culture and language. It's been reported, for example, that most Latinos who seek mental heath services never return after that first visit.

Read the full interview on the NPR website. Listen to the interview.

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