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There is some good news and bad news about suicides in the U.S. Across the country, suicides have increased nearly 30 percent since the turn of the century. That’s the bad news. But there’s good news for Hispanics, at least in California. Although Latinos face economic disadvantages and other stress in their lives, their suicide rate is less than one-third that of non-Hispanic whites, according to research compiled by Kaiser Health News.
In California, the suicide rate for whites was 19 per 100,000 people in 2016, and the rate for Hispanics was 5.5 per 100,000, according to the state Department of Public Health. (Hispanics can be of any race.) The overall suicide rate in California in 2016 was 10.9 per 100,000.
Experts attribute the relatively low suicide rate among Latinos to the culture’s strong family and community support systems, which appear to bolster emotional resilience.
Latinos in California and across the U.S. face obstacles that can affect their health and well-being. They earn less than non-Hispanic whites, and are more likely to lack health insurance coverage. And recent immigrants face the stresses of moving to a new country, and, though there is no research to gauge how this affects them, an Administration hostile to immigration.
It’s practice of “colectivismo,” the or relationships built through extended family, work colleagues and friends, that gives Latinos an emotional safety net, experts say.
But that’s not the whole story. As Latinos become more assimilated, the more their risk of suicide goes up. A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that suicidal thoughts and attempts increased as Latinos spent more years in the U.S. and started losing fluency in Spanish and connections to Latino social networks and identity.