It’s Time to Talk . . . Suicide in Young Adults

I teach Transcultural Nursing. The concluding “final exam” for these nursing students was a group project/presentation. They selected an ethnic group, identified a health issue, and developed a culturally competent educational tool that addressed the issue within the context of cultural beliefs, values & health care practices of that specific group.  One group chose Japanese with a focus on suicide in 15-24 year old students. It sparked such a response and concern within me because the presenters & those listening were 20 to 24 years old!  With the pressure of school, final exams, financial obligations of student loans and finding a job in today’s market, I thought this more than an opportune time to bring up the subject!

Some stats:

  •  Overall suicide rate in the United States is 12.2/100,000
  •  Native American/Alaskan Native the rate is 31/100,000
  •  There are 100-200 attempts for every completed suicide
  •  Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15-24 year olds
  •  Asian-American college student were more likely than White American students to have had suicidal thoughts & attempt suicide (APA 2013)
  •  Asian-Americans with suicidal thoughts were less likely to seek help (Chu, 2011)

75% of those who die by suicide display warning signs . . .

  •  Give away prized possessions
  •  Talk about suicide
  •  Appear depressed or demonstrate a change in personality
  •  Withdraw from social interactions
  •  Note change in sleep patterns

As healthcare practitioners we need to:

  •  Ask the question: “Have you or are you considering suicide?”
  •  Note the the non-verbal response:
  • According to Dr. Mehrabin ~  55% of the message is body language; 38% is tone of voice ; 7% are the words
  •  Take time!


American Physcological Association (2012) ~

Center for Disease Control & Prevention (2012). Nat’l Center for Injury Prevention & Control. Retrieved June 12, 2013 from
*Chu, J.P. etal (2011). Help-seeking tendencies in Asian Americans with suicidal ideation and attempts. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 2, 25-38.

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