SUICIDE COGNITIONS AMONG ARAB AMERICAN EMERGING ADULTS: RISK AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS

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2021-05

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Abstract

Arab Americans are a rapidly growing and increasingly marginalized ethnic group. Despite evidence that anti-Arab discrimination has increased in the past two decades, there remains a dearth of literature. The only published empirical investigation of suicide risk among Arab Americans utilized epidemiological methodology and reported similar suicide death rates to other ethnoracial minority groups (El-Sayed et al., 2011). Notably, in the near decade since its publication, factors that contribute to suicide vulnerability for this population remain unknown. Furthermore, studies have found that younger Arab Americans report more frequent experiences with discrimination (Awad, 2011). Building on a vast literature that has found race-based stressors to increase risk for suicide, the primary goal of this study was to explore risk and resilience factors for suicide cognitions among Arab American emerging adults. Structural equation modeling was utilized to test the hypothesized model, but findings suggested the data better fit a path regression model. Gender significantly predicted suicide ideation. A model was subsequently identified and interpreted only for female Arab American participants as the sample size was limited for male participants. Results revealed that anxiety, but not depressive, symptoms mediated the relationship between perceived discrimination and suicide ideation for female participants. Religious coping moderated this relationship such that higher frequency of perceived discrimination was associated with higher levels of anxiety symptomatology for participants who reported religious coping scores between the 38th and 87th percentile for the current sample. Religious coping indirectly predicted suicide ideation via mediated effects of anxiety. Ethnic identity and ethnic density did not emerge as significant moderators. Ethnic identity was positively associated with depressive symptoms and ethnic density was negatively associated with suicide ideation. Study implications and future directions are discussed.

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Keywords

Arab American, suicide

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