Suicide Risk and Resiliency Factors Among Hispanic Teens in New Mexico: Schools Can Make a Difference.

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BACKGROUND: Youth suicide is a serious public health problem in the United States. School environments, and the attention of school adults, are promising but minimally studied avenues for promoting mental health among students.

METHODS: The 2013 New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey data were analyzed to identify ways in which the school environment influences suicide attempts in a sample of Hispanic students. Factors examined were: relationships with school adults, speaking a language other than English at home, being born outside the United States and not having enough to eat. Odds ratios were used to measure relationships.

RESULTS: Factors influencing suicide attempt were similar for boys and girls. The odds of suicide attempt declined by approximately one third as measures of positive relationships with school adults increased. Post-high school education plans also were protective. Being born outside the United States and not having enough to eat increased the odds of past-year suicide attempt. Speaking a language other than English at home was a weak risk factor for suicide attempt only among Hispanic girls.

CONCLUSIONS: Teachers and other school adults can decrease suicide risk for Hispanic teens by forming supportive relationships with students. Special consideration should be given to providing free breakfast in schools.