Friendship Factors and Suicidality: Common and Unique Patterns in Mexican American and European American Youth

Authors

  • Erin Winterrowd PhD ,

    1. Erin Winterrowd, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI, USA; Silvia Sara Canetto and Ernest L. Chavez, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
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  • Silvia Sara Canetto PhD ,

    1. Erin Winterrowd, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI, USA; Silvia Sara Canetto and Ernest L. Chavez, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
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  • Ernest L. Chavez PhD

    1. Erin Winterrowd, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI, USA; Silvia Sara Canetto and Ernest L. Chavez, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
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  • This study was supported in part by a Student Fellowship in Injury Prevention awarded by the Society of Public Health Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the first author, and by Research Grant No. NIDA DA 06293 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the third author.

Address correspondence to Erin Winterrowd, Psychology Department, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, 800 Algoma Blvd., Oshkosh, WI 54901; E-mail: winterre@uwosh.edu

Abstract

Research suggests a link between friendships and suicidality among U.S. youth, but this link has not been confirmed across ethnicities. The relationship between friendships and suicidality among Mexican American and European American adolescents was examined in this study. Specifically, the role of friendship problems (i.e., social isolation, poor quality friendships) and problematic friends (i.e., friends who were disconnected from school, delinquent friends) was explored. Participants were 648 community youth. Friends’ school disconnection was related to Mexican American girls’ suicidal ideation, while friends’ delinquency was associated with European American youth suicidal behavior. Friendship factors were no longer associated with suicidality after controlling for suicidality correlates such as depression. These findings indicate that the relationship between friendships and suicidality varies by gender and ethnicity. They also suggest a dominant role of depression.

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