Mental Illness and Suicide among Hispanics

102815-religious-pix-1Mental Illness and Suicide among Hispanics

By Cathy Rodriguez-Malave

Documentation shows that the suicide rate among Hispanics islower compared to non-Hispanic whites in the 15-19 age group. Unfortunately Hispanics are more likely to suffer from serious psychological stress when over the age of 18, according to the CDC.

While actual suicide rates are lower and even though most Hispanics are raised to believe that suicide is a sin, the idea of committing suicide and suicide attempts happen at a higher rateamong Hispanics and especially among Hispanic girls.

Why? I can only speak from my experience as a Latina.

As the first generation born in the U.S. by immigrant parents, I felt many times that things were a bit harder for me than they were for my American school mates.

I was the voice for my parents, whose limited English hinderedproper communication at appointments, grocery stores, or even school events. I felt that I had to be the voice for my parents so that they wouldn’t be taken advantage of. This was actually the case for many of my Hispanic friends as well. That is a lot of pressure for a child. In essence it was kind of like being the parent sometimes.

Assimilation to the American culture can be difficult for Hispanic families as well. Some aspects of American culture clash with Hispanic culture. I used to watch in awe, the way my American friends spoke to their parents or any adult, thinking all the while how, if that was me; I would’ve gotten a chancleta so immediately!

As a Hispanic woman I have felt a lot of pressure to keep my culture, assimilate, be the caregiver for my parents, raise children who are culturally aware, respectful and successful, be a super wife, keep my problems well-hidden and be successfuljust to name a few.

At times I felt duties overwhelmed anddepressed; there was no place to turn. After all I didn’t want someone to think that I was loca; but there is so much more to mental illness then just feeling sad or depressed.

There are many Latinos battling mental illness. We need to remove the stigma attached to mental health issues in the Latino community. We need to view mental illness as the treatable medical condition that it is.

Everybody needs some help at one point or another in their lives and we need to stand behind our friends and family and let them know that it is ok to ask for help.Feeling overwhelmed, depressed and anxious makes us human. We are perfectly imperfect beings.

Even through our vulnerabilities and imperfections, we show how strong and courageous we can be. We can never give up.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide please get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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