Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Nancy J. Carbonell

Second Advisor

Frederick A. Kosinski, Jr.

Third Advisor

Jerome D. Thayer

Abstract

Problem. Recent research has identified several risk factors associated with attempted suicide among the general population. Puerto Ricans, in general, and Puerto Rican Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs), in particular, may face unique challenges that are related to their familial, social, and religious environment that may affect the suicidal attempts among this group. Therefore, this study examined family-related factors, history of being abused, religiosity factors, sexuality factors, gender, substance abuse, age, and socioeconomic status factors among a sample of religiously affiliated Puerto Ricans (73.2% SDAs) living on the island.

Methodology. The data for the study came from the Avance PR study. Avance PR is a continuation of the Avance study, the largest denominational study among the Hispanic population of any denomination in the U.S. (Ramirez-Johnson & Hernandez, 2003). The youth sample (ages 13-25) consisted of 598 males and 788 females (N = 1,406). A total of 35 independent variables (22 numerical and 13 categorical) were studied. These variables were tested using ANOVA, chisquare, two-way ANOVA, and Discriminant Analysis.

Results. Of the total sample, 12.5% admitted having attempted suicide in the 12-month period prior to the survey. Analysis of the numerical variables using ANOVA indicated 16 of them being significantly related to suicide attempt (p< .05). Of the categorical variables tested using Chisquare, 11 variables were found significantly related to suicide attempt (p< .05). Analysis of four selected dichotomous variables (gender, age groups, sexual orientation and family status) using two-way ANOVAs, indicated significant interaction between these variables on suicide attempt with several numerical variables (p< .05). Finally, discriminant analysis of 28 variables that were found significant in previous analyses yielded a significant function.

Conclusions. Religiously affiliated Puerto Rican adolescents and young adults have a rate of suicide attempts similar to the rate in the general population. Seven variables were significantly related to suicide attempt in various analyses and showed a large effect size. These were: family cohesion, parental understanding, parental knowledge of youth activities, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and substance abuse.

Subject Area

Youth--Suicidal behavior--Puerto Rico, Teenagers--Suicidal behavior--Puerto Rico, Suicidal behavior--Puerto Rico.

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