Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Welfare

First Advisor's Name

Mark Macgowan

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Miriam Potocky

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Nicole Fava

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Jeremy W. Pettit

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Suicide, Morbidity, Latina, Youth, Mental Health, Behavioral Health

Date of Defense



Purpose: This study aimed to understand which factors correlated to a likelihood of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in Latina youth and how that may or may not differ from female youth of different racial/ethnic groups. Additionally, this study sought to explore which predictors increased the likelihood of suicide attempts as youth aged into adulthood.

Method: The study was a secondary data analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) using binomial logistic regression and generalized estimating equations. The sample consists of 10,480 youth at Wave 1, who were followed with repeated measures 1, 6, and 13 years after baseline. This investigation utilized a cross-sectional and longitudinal design using multiple logistic regression and generalized estimating equations analyses, respectively. vii

Results: For suicidal thoughts, higher scores of depression, a history of forced sexual intercourse, at least one friend suicide attempt, lower scores of mother connectedness, and lower scores father connectedness were statistically significant correlates of suicidal thoughts at Wave I for Latinas. Higher scores of depression, a history of forced sexual intercourse, and at least one friend suicide attempt remained significant correlates of suicide attempts for Latinas at Wave 1. Predictors varied between racial/ethnic groups, with only depression scores being a significant predictor for all groups for both thoughts and attempts. Age, depression score, alcohol use, forced sexual intercourse, family suicide attempt, friend suicide attempt, father as a recipient of public assistance, physical abuse from a parent, attempted removal by social services, mother connectedness, father connectedness, and acculturation were significant predictors of suicide attempts over time for all female youth in the study sample. Race/ethnicity was not a significant predictor of suicide attempts over time.

Conclusion: Suicidality remains uncommon but identifying the predictors associated with suicide attempt likelihood can help in identification of at-risk youth and the tailoring of appropriate and culturally competent prevention and treatment programs. For Latinas, emphasis should be placed on evaluation for symptoms of depression, the impact of forced sexual contact, the contagion effect of peer suicide, and the perceived quality of the relationship the youth has with each of her parental figures.





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