In their own words : a qualitative study of Asian American college student suicide

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Tran, Kimberly K., 1974-

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Although the amount of interest and research on college student suicide has increased in recent years, there remains a paucity of knowledge focused on issues of suicide for college students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. This study aimed to expand the limited knowledge of Asian American college student suicide using archival data from a larger national study titled The Nature of Suicidal Crisis in College Students. The survey was administered collaboratively online by the National Research Consortium of Counseling Centers in Higher Education and included 70 U.S. colleges and universities. Guided by the interpersonal-psychological theory of attempted and completed suicide and a cultural frame salient to Asian Americans, this study employed qualitative research methods to capture the lived experience of fifty-eight Asian American suicidal college students. More specifically, the present investigation explored the factors that positively and negatively influenced Asian American college students with serious suicide ideation from progressing to behaviors with higher risk of lethality, such as suicide attempts and completions. Findings from a culturally grounded phenomenological analysis of participants’ narrative responses revealed protective factors including:(a) a desire not to hurt or burden others, (b) social support, (c) fear, (d) self reliance and assistance, and (e) insight and meaning. Factors that participants found least helpful in resolving their suicidal crisis were (a) academics (b) lack of social support and (c) experiences with mental health providers. The results of this study provides information that should be of interest to mental health practitioners working with Asian American college students as well as have the potential to contribute towards the formulation of a theory for this specific ethnic minority group. Additionally, it is the intention that these findings will enable design of both culturally appropriate prevention and intervention programs.



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