Maladaptive Perfectionism, Expressive Suppression, and Familism Among Young Adult Children of Immigrants: Risk or Resilience to Suicide Ideation?
Odafe, Mary O.
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Objectives: Children of immigrants (i.e., born in the U.S. to immigrant parents or foreign-born who migrated to the U.S. during childhood) constitute one quarter of the U.S. population. Ethnic minority individuals across this generational status consistently show greater vulnerability to suicide than their foreign-born parents, suggesting the presence of risk factors that are unique to the social and cultural context of being raised in the U.S. Suicide is a leading cause of death among young adults in the general population, yet little is known about potential risk factors unique to the cultural contexts of young adult children of immigrants. In the current study, maladaptive perfectionism, expressive suppression, and attitudinal familism are examined as culturally-relevant psychosocial predictors of suicide ideation in Asian, African/Black Caribbean, and Hispanic/Latinx young adult children of immigrants. Method: University and community-based young adults (1.5 and 2nd generation American; N = 376) completed measures of maladaptive perfectionism, expressive suppression, attitudinal familism, suicide ideation, depressive symptoms, and demographic variables. Results: Two moderated mediation analyses were initially conducted. Expressive suppression (M) was not a significant mediator of maladaptive perfectionism (X) and suicide ideation (Y). Further, this association did not vary by levels of familism – Familial Honor (W1) and Subjugation of Self for Family (W2). However, a third moderated mediation analysis revealed that maladaptive perfectionism, when entered as a mediator (M), accounted for the association of expressive suppression (X) and suicide ideation (Y). Further, this association varied by participant race/ethnicity (W) with Asian and African/Black Caribbean participants showing a significantly larger mediation effect than Hispanic/Latinx participants. Predictors remained significant above and beyond the potentially confounding effects of depressive symptoms, age, gender, and education level. The overall model containing expressive suppression, maladaptive perfectionism, participant race/ethnicity, and covariate variables was significant (R2=0.263, df = 6, 349, F = 20.733, p <.001) and accounted for 26% of the variance in suicide ideation. Conclusions: For young adult children of immigrants who endorse maladaptive perfectionism, suppressive coping strategies may reinforce stringent perfectionist beliefs and ultimately contribute to suicide vulnerability. This association may be strongest for Asian and African/Black Caribbean young adults, relative to Hispanic/Latinx young adults. More research is needed to understand racial/ethnic differences and define cultural protective factors that may promote resilience to suicide and overall psychological well-being among young adult children of immigrants.