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Suicide among Arab-Americans

El-Sayed, Abdulrahman M.; Tracy, Melissa S.; Scarborough, Peter; Galea, Sandro

Arab-American (AA) populations in the US are exposed to discrimination and acculturative stress—two factors that have been associated with higher suicide risk. However, prior work suggests that socially oriented norms and behaviors, which characterize recent immigrant ethnic groups, may be protective against suicide risk. Here we explored suicide rates and their determinants among AAs in Michigan, the state with the largest proportion of AAs in the US. Methodology/Principal Findings: ICD-9/10 underlying cause of death codes were used to identify suicide deaths from among all deaths in Michigan between 1990 and 2007. Data from the 2000 U.S. Census were collected for population denominators. Age-adjusted suicide rates among AAs and non-ethnic whites were calculated by gender using the direct method of standardization. We also stratified by residence inside or outside of Wayne County (WC), the county with the largest AA population in the state. Suicide rates were 25.10 per 100,000 per year among men and 6.40 per 100,000 per year among women in Michigan from 1990 to 2007. AA men had a 51% lower suicide rate and AA women had a 33% lower rate than non-ethnic white men and women, respectively. The suicide rate among AA men in WC was 29% lower than in all other counties, while the rate among AA women in WC was 20% lower than in all other counties. Among non-ethnic whites, the suicide rate in WC was higher compared to all other counties among both men (12%) and women (16%). Conclusions/Significance: Suicide rates were higher among non-ethnic white men and women compared to AA men and women in both contexts. Arab ethnicity may protect against suicide in both sexes, but more so among men. Additionally, ethnic density may protect against suicide among Arab-Americans.

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Epidemiology
Published Here
February 17, 2014
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