Suicide, negative interaction and emotional support among black Americans

Karen D Lincoln, Robert Joseph Taylor, Linda M Chatters, Sean Joe
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2012, 47 (12): 1947-58

OBJECTIVES: This study is the first to investigate the relationship between perceived emotional support and negative interaction with family members and suicide ideation and attempts among African American and Caribbean black adults.

METHOD: Cross-sectional epidemiologic data from the National Survey of American Life and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to examine the association between perceived emotional support and negative interaction and suicide behaviors among 3,570 African Americans and 1,621 Caribbean blacks age 18 and older.

RESULTS: Multivariate analyses found that perceived emotional support was associated with lower odds of suicide ideation and attempts for African Americans and Caribbean blacks. Negative interaction with family was associated with greater odds of suicide ideation among African Americans and Caribbean blacks. Ethnicity moderated the impact of emotional support and negative interaction on suicide attempts; among Caribbean blacks, those who reported more frequent emotional support from their family had a significantly greater reduced risk for suicide attempts than African Americans. The effect of negative interaction on suicide attempts was also more pronounced for Caribbean blacks compared to African Americans.

DISCUSSION: Negative interaction was a risk factor for suicide ideation and emotional support was a protective factor for attempts and ideation. These associations were observed even after controlling for any mental disorder. The findings demonstrate the importance of social relationships as both risk and protective factors for suicide and ethnic differences in suicidal ideation and attempts among black Americans.

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