Immigration-related stress and suicidal behavior among Latino adolescents  (2015)

Researcher(s):

Project Sponsor(s)

  • Office of the Vice President for Research
  • The University of Texas at Austin

Project Categories

Research has continuously demonstrated that Latina teens attempt suicide at disproportionate rates. Few studies include Hispanic adolescents who have recently immigrated despite evidence that suggests a positive correlation between immigration and risk for suicidal behavior. Given the few effective interventions that reduce youth suicidal behavior, there is an increased need to conduct research that enables the development of effective interventions for this population.

Dr. Gulbas’ pilot project aims to launch a new research program that will explore the effects of immigration-related change on gender and family dynamics and how such change shapes decisions to attempt suicide among adolescent boys and girls from Mexico. The main objectives of this pilot include: 1) Establishing relationships with clinical and community partners with whom research will be conducted 2) Developing a qualitative interview protocol for use with adolescent boys and girls who have recently immigrated to the greater Austin area from Mexico. This will be accomplished by conducting two focus groups with participants who meet inclusion criteria. 3) Testing the qualitative interview guide through individual interviews with participants who meet inclusion criteria.

The expected results from this proposed pilot include: (1) a well-tested qualitative interview guide; (2) demonstrated feasibility of participant recruitment, which will strengthen subsequent applications to externally-funded grant mechanisms; and (3) preliminary findings on the various ways in which immigration shapes the psychosocial wellbeing of adolescent boys and girls, including suicidal behavior. Such outcomes will advance the field of scientific research on this understudied population-at-risk. In addition, it is expected that the research conducted in this pilot will form the necessary first-step toward identifying interventions that enhance positive outcomes for immigrant youth who attempt suicide and their families.