Mental health, an unspoken journey
Increased suicide rate among Latinos and Hispanics worry experts across the country Mohamed_hassan/Pixabay

NEW YORK CITY - Increased immigration, language and cultural barriers and poor financial conditions are central factors of an emerging trend among the Latino population in the United States that has specialists worried.

The suicide rate for Hispanic people in the United States has increased significantly over the past decade, NBC News reported. The trend has seen Hispanic people as young as elementary school children attempting to harm themselves or expressing suicidal thoughts.

One of the main reasons for this was the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community leaders and mental health researchers say the pandemic hit young Hispanics and Latinos especially hard. Because they are often burdened with more responsibilities from their immigrant families— whether that is translating messages in English or getting a job to help pay for family expenses— young Hispanics have been found to be more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's provisional data for 2022 shows a record high of nearly 50,000 suicide deaths for all racial and ethnic groups. These statistics show that figures have been more disproportionate in communities of color, with the suicide rate among Hispanics jumping from 5.7 per 100,000 people to 7.5 per 100,000, according to the data.

For Hispanic children 12 and younger, the rate increased 92.3 percent from 2010 to 2019, according to a study published in the Journal of Community Health.

"There are waves of immigrants coming as minors, displaced, and sometimes not with immediate caregivers," Diane Elias, vice president of behavioral health at The Children's Institute in Los Angeles said. "This can put a hefty burden on children. They are expected, as minors, to balance self-financing and earning money to support their family or help them immigrate to the U.S."

A breakup or loss, history of depression or other mental illness, financial or job problems, lack of access to health care and social isolation are some of the main factors that can lead to a suicide attempt. For Hispanics, stress linked to immigration is an added factor for problems related to mental health.

Coupled with these, a lack of adequate mental health access and infrastructure affects minorities and people of color disproportionately, especially since the beginning of the pandemic.

A recent study of 547 Latino adolescents ages 11 to 16 found the detention or deportation of a family member was associated with significantly higher odds of suicidal thoughts, NBC News reported.

"Our kids are interpreters, they pay bills, go to medical appointments," putting additional stress and anxiety on them, said Belisa Urbina, CEO of Ser Familia, a social services organization in metro Atlanta.

Adding to that, "not feeling like you belong, and not knowing what your life holds ahead of you," common feelings among immigrant adolescents, can create feelings of uncertainty and anxiety, Alejandra Vargas, a bilingual Spanish program coordinator for the Suicide Prevention Center at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services said.

Bias is oftentimes another obstacle that prevents Hispanics from reaching out for help.

In many Latino cultures and communities, mental illness is considered a taboo, particularly for men.

Because of this trend, specialists around the country are looking for ways to reduce national suicide rates.

From funding to grassroot activism and programs that recognize cultural, legal and language needs, decreasing the suicide rate is a collective effort that requires both government and community assistance, said Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor at New Mexico State University.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.

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