Guilherme Borges(1,3), Liliana Mondragón(1) and Joshua Breslau(2)
1. National Institute of Psychiatry, México City, México
2. UC Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California, USA
3. Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, México City, México
Immigration and Mental Health: Stress, Psychiatric Disorders and Suicidal Behavior Among Immigrants and Refugees. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2010, 350 pages.
At the end of 2002 it was estimated that there were about 33 million Hispanics in the US, 14.5 million being non natives (about 60 % from Mexico) and 75% Hispanics being either immigrants or children of immigrants. This review covers the research published within the last 20 years on the experience of people of Hispanic background regarding suicide ideation and attempt when they first come to the US (first generation) looking for improvements in their standard of living through better jobs and more social opportunities, and as immigrants get settle and have US-Born children (second generation) and grand-children (third generation and so on). We also introduce new research regarding suicide ideation and attempt among return migrants and the families that the immigrants leave behind in their homeland. The current research in this area is limited in number and scope of interest, with most studies focusing on the simple ethnicity comparison. The research is basically cross-sectional and has produced results that are inconsistent in several key points. Currently, we do not know if Hispanics have rates of suicide ideation and attempts that are higher (or lower) when compared to Whites in the US. Evidence is more consistent on four other points. First, there is evidence that immigrants of Mexican origin who immigrated while youths (12 years or less) have rates of suicide ideation and attempt that are higher than similar persons who remained in their home country (i.e. Mexican non-migrants). Second, immigrants have crude lower prevalence of suicide ideation and attempt (both lifetime and 12-month) when compared to US-Born Hispanics of the same ethnicity, especially if they immigrated at older ages. Third, there is some evidence that Hispanics with more US-Born parents to have higher crude prevalence of suicide attempt when compared to US-Born Hispanics with no US-Born parents, but this was not always supported in multivariate analyses. Fourth, all studies showed that the preference in the use of English was positively associated with ideation, and suicide attempt, but associations between language use and attempts did not reach statistical significance. Research efforts that combine populations and information from sending and receiving countries and expand the number of groups under comparison to cover as many specific migratory experiences as possible are needed. This effort will require much more complex research designs that will call for true international collaboration.