Chinese youth at higher risk of suicide

Youth suicide is a serious issue in the Chinese community, China Press (僑報) reports. According to a study conducted by the Department of Minority Health, 10.8 percent of Asian high school students reported they attempted suicide in 2009, compared to 6.2 percent of White students. Chinese American women ages 15-24 are especially at risk, with higher suicide rates than European American women of the same age, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Derek Hsieh, supervising psychiatric social worker at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, says that Chinese parents often put a great emphasis on their children's success, which contributes to mental health problems. Under pressure, Chinese children may fear disappointing their parents and can experience greater stress than their peers from other cultures. Hsieh suggests that instead of aiming too high and getting disappointed, young people should set realistic goals and try to achieve gradual progress with assistance.

There is also a stigma about psychological issues in the Asian community, according to Stanley Sue, a professor of psychology and Asian American studies at the University of California at Davis. "In general, Asian Americans are not likely to talk about their psychological problems,"  Sue told Time Magazine. This can prevent Asian youth from seeking psychological resources and services, Sue said.

According to Laurel Bear, director of Student Services at Alhambra Unified School District, AUSD provides support services to more than 1,500 students every year, about half of whom are Chinese. Many Asian students are the first generation in their families to be born in the United States and face cultural and communication barriers with their parents, Bear explained. Student Services helps parents understand that even though academic performance is crucial, emotional and social development is equally important to their kids.

For psychological counseling or support, please call the Department of Mental Health Hotline at 1-800-854-7771.

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