Racial homelessness, racial identity invalidation, family discrimination, and suicidal ideation in college-aged multiracial Americans : using path analysis to test the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide




Krueger, Nolan Travis

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The current doctoral project explores pathways to suicidal ideation (SI) among college-aged Multiracial Americans. Multiracial Americans constitute a substantial and rapidly growing cross-section of the United States population. Projections estimate this group to grow exponentially in the coming decades–faster than any other racial group. A small but growing body of research also shows that young Multiracial people experience higher levels of distress and suicidality relative to their monoracial peers. Considering this disparity, it is imperative that the etiology of such health-risk behaviors among this group be rigorously studied in order to craft culturally responsive interventions that helping professionals and organizations can begin to implement.

Couched in Joiner’s Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS), this study utilizes path analysis to build a model linking Multiracial-specific psychosocial stressors and proximal correlates of suicidality with SI. With a sample of 190 college-aged (18-25) Multiracial participants currently living in the U.S., I hypothesized that racial identity invalidation, racial homelessness, and family discrimination alongside depressive symptoms and hopelessness would predict SI through the IPTS variables of perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness. Self-report survey data showed that depressive symptoms, racial homelessness, and perceived burdensomeness predicted SI directly, and that depressive symptoms, hopelessness, and racial homelessness predicted SI indirectly through perceived burdensomeness. Neither racial identity invalidation, family discrimination, nor thwarted belongingness predicted SI in the current study. However, all variables of interest were significantly correlated with SI at the bivariate level.

Findings point to racial homelessness as a mixed-specific proximal correlate of SI but suggest that further qualitative research is warranted to better understand the unique underlying drivers and factors that promote suicidality for mixed Americans. Findings also suggest that the relationship between SI and known proximal correlates of suicidal ideation, namely depressive symptoms and hopelessness, holds for college-aged Multiracial Americans. Lastly, results suggest that perceived burdensomeness may be a stronger driver of suicidal ideation relative to thwarted belongingness. Findings regarding the establishment of an evidence-based understanding of SI among young Multiracial Americans, along with suggestions for future research are discussed.


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