Why are young Asian-Americans killing themselves? Group’s emotional battle against cultural and social pressure in America
MSN / March 3, 2020
- Suicide was the top cause of death among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders aged 15-24 in 2017, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
- The combination of heavy pressure to succeed and a conflicted cultural identity can increase the risk of depression, US medical experts say
Organisations such as Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in Los Angeles are offering suicide prevention resources – from education outreach to suicide hotlines – in Asian languages, to fill the lack of culturally sensitive mental services for the population.
Christopher Jun is one of the nonprofit’s educators who does one-on-one talks in the local Korean community every week on suicide prevention. “The community is slowly opening up,” Jun said.
The younger generation tends to be willing to discuss mental health issues, Jorge Wong said, but more needs to be done to prevent them from turning to suicide.
Given the impact that parents can have on their children’s way of thinking, “it is very important that parents express their love”, said Y. Joel Wong, the leader of the Indiana University suicide rate study. “Parents should tell their kids that, regardless of how you do, I still love you.”
Lam, the motivational talk show host, advises young Asian-Americans to embrace both sides of their identity. “Think of it as a strength, not a weakness … We have something special that defines us: We can be a bridge to cultures,” she said.
But most important, educator Christopher Jun said, is this advice: “When you are not feeling well, seek help!”
If you are having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available. For Hong Kong, dial +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans or +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on +1 800 273 8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page.