Resisting assumptions about culture
According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2005 to 2015, Latina adolescents reported higher levels of sadness and hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and suicidal attempts than white or Black girls of the same age. If we were to follow the widely accepted hypothesis of a continuum in suicidality, from death wishes to suicidal attempts and completed suicide, Latina adolescents would have higher levels of suicide than their counterparts. However, that is not the case. Young Latinas’ suicide rates are significantly lower than white female and slightly higher than Black female adolescents. The reasons behind the higher reports in ideations and attempts among Latina girls continues to be a mystery. Much of the current research points to the understanding of this phenomena from a cultural perspective. In this multimedia project, I question how Latino culture through the use of the acculturation construct is conceptualized as a localized, static group of cultural traits in most academic literature addressing Latinos’ mental health issues in general, and in particular young Latinas’ suicidal behaviors. I do agree with the idea that culture and self are in constant interplay and constitute each other. However, Latino culture in the US has not been created in a vacuum, and should not be understood as operating outside the context of the historical structural factors that condition the environment in which young Latinas live. The absence of historical and structural understanding weakens the explanatory power of culture to account for the totality of this baffling phenomenon. Clinicians, teachers, health providers, and other constituencies who are involved in supporting and promoting the emotional and psychological health of young Latinas will find in this site two things: an alternative to the way in which Latino culture is traditionally depicted in the mental health literature and a perspective which includes not only the cultural, but also the social, structural, and historical contexts. These connections are deemed necessary for continuing to broaden our understanding of the high levels of suicidal ideation and attempts by young Latinas, and more importantly, the understanding and promotion of their general welfare.
Indeed, this project’s overall purpose is to open up the conversations about young Latinas emotional well-being including their high level of suicidal ideations and behavior by bringing a diversity of perspectives, including young Latinas voices found online.
How to navigate this blog?
On this site, the conversations about Latina emotional and psychological well being, including their high level of suicidal ideations and behaviors, revolve around four main topics: immigration, culture/acculturation, young Latina identity, and the relationship between Latino mothers and their daughters. I approach these topics from various critical perspectives making it possible to deal with the complex issues of power differential, social location, identity, identity politics, and inequality in the context of Latinas’ emotional well-being.
With the exception of “some words of caution” and ‘between harm and hope,” each blogs is dedicated for the most part to one of the main topics. It is impossible, however, to isolate these issues from one another; they are all interconnected and mutually impacting.
Since summer 2016, I have been collecting digital information relevant to this project; that information is included on this site. These resources, which are intended for clinicians as well as for other people interested in the subject matter, are organized according to different criteria. There are over a hundred digital pieces, which you can access on the Resource menu where they are classified according to their relevance to the four main topics I describe above. This collection of digital information is also available in the CATEGORIES listing where individual pieces are classified according to a number of different subtopics, including media genre categories.
More about this project….