Suicide among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups: Theory, Research, and Practice

Suicide among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups: Theory, Research, and Practice

Suicide among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups: Theory, Research, and Practice

Suicide among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups: Theory, Research, and Practice


Suicide is increasingly understood and predicted as an intersection of biological, psychological, cognitive, and sociocultural factors. We have some basic knowledge of these factors and how they interact, but presently we know very little about how culture can play a role as a variable that influences suicide. Suicide Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups will go a long way towards filling that gap by pulling together cutting edge empirical research from general cultural diversity literature and applying it to suicide assessment, treatment, and prevention theory and practice. By looking outside of the limited cross-cultural studies done within suicidal populations, the contributors - all established experts in both multicultural counseling and suicidology - expand the available empirical literature base in order to provide a deeper look into how culture can act as an important catalyst in suicidal intentions.

Following theoretical overviews, the text focuses on six broad ethic groups classified in the literature (African American, American Indian, Asian American, European American, Hawaiian & Pacific Islander, and Hispanic), with a main chapter devoted to each, relating each culture to suicide research, highlighting specific variables within the culture that can influence suicide, and presenting appropriate treatment considerations. A final section of the book consists of practical applications within specific settings (therapy, outreach, schools, psychiatric services) and prevention and training issues.


Although White middle-income people constitute only 5% of the world’s population, nearly all approaches to suicide assessment and intervention derive from the assumptions of, and research upon, this restricted segment of humanity. The result has been an unintentional abetting of ethnic disparities in healthcare, as racial and cultural issues (and sometimes populations) have been marginalized or rendered invisible by dominant frameworks of suicidology. The thoughtful contributions to Suicide among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups take a long step in the direction of rectifying this imbalance.

Beyond a general advocacy for multicultural sensitivity, what do the 13 chapters that constitute this volume add to our efforts to extend ethically appropriate, enthnologically informed and evidence-based attention to the suicide patterns and processes of American minorities? In a phrase, the answer is “a great deal.” In response to the overly generalized depiction of “non-White” suicide statistics and deficit-based models of risk that characterized the early literature, Leong and Leach have assembled an impressive panel of experts—themselves diverse in race and ethnicity—to integrate and present the lessons of an evolving literature that is far more nuanced, and that attends to cultural factors that are protective against suicide, as well as contributory to it.

Some sense of the scope of this effort is provided by a quick perusal of the book’s Table of Contents, which addresses classic suicide theories, and then stretches these through a close consideration of data on African American, Latino and Latina, Asian American, Pacific-Island, and Native American populations. The results of this careful sifting of hundreds of studies are always revealing and sometimes surprising, identifying unique risk factors associated with migration to the United States, acculturation struggles, and generational conflicts that increase the risk of suicide for both younger and older members of some ethnic communities. The reader frequently encounters evidence that distinguishes between various minority group members and the European American clients whose risk profiles may be more familiar, such as the discovery that self-destructiveness . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.