• suicide attempt;
  • major depressive disorder;
  • ethnicity;
  • epidemiology

Objective:  Rates of major depression and suicide vary across ethnic groups within the US. This also may be true of suicide attempts.

Method:  Data on lifetime suicidal behavior and major depression among Mexican American, Cuban American, and Puerto Rican adults who participated in the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Epidemiologic Survey were pooled with Epidemiological Catchment Area Study data for Blacks, Whites and Hispanics.

Results:  Rates of major depression ranged from 9.3 (Puerto Ricans) to 3.24% (Cuban Americans). Puerto Ricans and whites had the highest rates of depression. Similarly, suicide attempt rates ranged from 9.1% for Puerto Ricans to 1.9% for Cuban Americans. Puerto Ricans had higher suicide attempt rates compared with other groups.

Conclusion:  This study underscores that there are differences between Hispanic ethnic groups. The impact of the migration process, socioeconomic status, and acculturation may underlie differences in major depression and suicide attempt rates across ethnic groups.