Racial Differences in Risk Factors Associated with Suicidal Behavior among Young Adults in the United States

Lorenzo Lorenzo-Luaces, University of Puerto Rico
Julie A. Phillips, Rutgers University

Studies have shown a range of risk factors for suicidal behavior. Racial differences in its prevalence and the magnitude of the effects of its risk factors have received little attention. Using nationally representative data (n= 8, 909), we calculate the prevalence of suicidal behavior and associated risk factors for White and Black youth (18-26) and estimate logistic regression models of suicidal ideation stratified by race. Whites have higher rates of ideation, but racial differences in attempts are not statistically significant. Whites are more likely to possess key risk factors for suicide. Other than gender and marijuana use, the effects by race of these risk factors on suicidal ideation are similar. Higher prevalence of suicidal ideation in Whites may be driven by their greater exposure to risk factors. More research is needed to uncover why Whites have higher rates of suicidal ideation and completion than Blacks, but comparable rates of attempts.

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Presented in Session 42: Adolescents, Young Adults, and Mental Health