Depression, Hopelessness, and Suicide Ideation among Asian-American Students

Donna Jean Akiye Kato Ida (Ph.D., 1989)

Thesis directed by Professor Peter G. Ossorio

This research was designed to gain information on the mental health of Asian American students. Its goal was to look at stresses which might result in suicide ideation, depression, and hopelessness. It was also designed to see how similar or dissimilar the different generations are from each other.

Questionnaires were sent to 200 Asian American students on the University of Colorado, Boulder campus. The response rate was 40%. There were 39 (54%) first generation, 8 (11%) second generation, and 25 (34%) third generation respondents. Of the foreign born, 24 (36%) arrived in the United States after the age of 10.

Using the Aylesworth & Ossorio (1983) Displaced Person's Model, predictions were made concerning differences in stressors, depression, hopelessness and suicide ideation/attempts between Group I (first and second generation) and Group II (third and succeeding generations). Predictions supported by results showed that Group I students experienced higher levels of overall stress and reported more conflict with parents, while Group II students reported higher pressures to succeed. There were no significant differences between groups on the depression, hopelessness, and suicide ideation measures.

Overall, the Asian American sample showed higher rates of suicide ideation and attempts than did non-Asian student populations reported in other studies. Suicide ideation was greatest for first generation students who arrived in the United States after the age of 10. Further analyses of separate generations are reported. Results are discussed with respect to the "hidden problems" of Asian American mental health. There is a need for research to differentiate not only the generational differences shown here but also the variety of distinct ethnic groups that fall under the generic term Asian American.