Asian Americans face different social stressors than their American counterparts. Some of the factors that can cause particular sensitivity include discrimination, nativity and family conflict. Yusuke Kuroki and Jacqueline L. Tilley of the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California evaluated Asian Americans at risk for suicide to determine which cultural and social factors impacted their suicidal ideation the most. They gathered data from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) on Asian American mental health and analyzed it using the classification and regression tree (CART) analysis. “Ultimately, CART analysis identiﬁes subgroups, in which people are homogeneous in terms of dependent variables and independent variables, and creates a tree model that predicts the value for each subgroup,” said Kuroki. “Our aims were to (a) determine the most important predictors of suicidal ideation using random forest, and (b) generate a decision tree using CART that closely mirrors the clinical decision-making process and identiﬁes the factors that best classify suicide attempters from non-suicide attempters.”
Based on information from 2,095 Asian Americans, Kuroki and Tilley found that participants with anxiety and depression were the most vulnerable for suicidal ideation. But family matters, such as a sense of belonging and family conflict, followed closely as predictors of suicidal ideation. The team added, “Contrary to previous studies that suggest acculturative stress is a strong predictor of suicidal ideation, we found that its contribution to predictive accuracy in adult Asian Americans was zero.” They said, “Furthermore, the interpersonal theory of suicide hypothesizes that thwarted belongingness (e.g., family conﬂict) and perceived burdensomeness (e.g., mental illness) could give rise to suicidal ideation.” Kuroki believes these results have important clinical implications. “The ﬁndings underscore the importance for clinicians to be attentive to stressors related to family and perceived discrimination over and above the usual socio-demographic factors associated with suicidal behaviors, such as gender and age, when evaluating an Asian American client’s risk for suicide,” Kuroki said.
Kuroki, Y., & Tilley, J. L. (2011, December 26). Recursive Partitioning Analysis of Lifetime Suicidal Behaviors in Asian Americans. Asian American Journal of Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026586
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