Thursday, September 24, 2009

Asian-American Women More Likely To Attempt Suicide

Radio link from Tell Me More:

Almost 16 percent of all U.S.-born Asian-American women have contemplated suicide in their lifetimes — compared to 13 percent of all Americans — according to new findings by the University of Washington. The study also finds that U.S. born Asian-American women are more likely to attempt suicide than other groups. Aileen Duldulao, lead author of the research and blogger Jen Wang, offer insight into the disturbing findings.
Click here for more news coverage of the study by Aileen Duldulao, and for more from Jen Wang, look to her blog, Disgrasian (which is great!).


Anonymous said...

I wonder about Iris Chang, the author of "The Chinese in America" who committed suicide about 5 years ago. She was an American born Chinese. I am almost done plodding through that book, which is not an easy read. I don't know why she committed suicide, but I wonder about the depressing nature of her work. I have learned a great deal from reading the book, but it is hardly uplifting. Her biography "Finding Iris Chang" was published in 2007.
Sue (aka anonymous)

malinda said...

I thought about Iris Chang when I heard the radio broadcast. My recollection is that she had had several bouts of severe depression before, and it was related to what the radio folks talked about as the "culture of achievement."

Pretty amazing to think of someone like Iris Chang, who had accomplished so much, thinking that she had not achieved enough.

AChineseDad said...

"It is important for service providers, as well as policymakers, to know that U.S.-born Asian-Americans, particularly the second generation, are at high risk for mental health problems and suicidal behavior."

This quote is taken from the Aileen Duldulao study mentioned in your blog. Notice the bolded words above, the second generation? IMO, that is the key to understanding the high suicide rate among Asian American women in the U.S. The second generation Asian Americans are the children of the first generation Asian immigrants who, by and large, are still used to parenting their kids the Asian way. Unlike boys, girls in the U.S. like to dress pretty, act pretty and popular (can you say cheerleading?), and be socially accepted and included. But these traits of a happy American girl runs perpendicularly against the traditional Asian culture that emphasizes modesty, reservedness, and respectfulness of a virtuous young girl. Little do these immigrant parents understand how much damage they have done to their daughter's self-esteem when they dress them poorly, deprive their daughters of sports and then care nothing else other than academic achivements. It is not uncommon to see an Asian immigrant parent push their elementary kids on 3 to 4 hours of extra homework each day (folks, I mean each day). Don't believe me? How about 1 hour of piano, 30 minutes to 1 hour of math "drill and kill" exercises, a hour of science and reading? What about writing? Chinese homework? How about 4 hours of college level courses for kids at a college on Saturday mornings? We have a friend whose 5th grade daughter is doing just that. For crying out loud, pushing your 5th grader on a college level course, albeit desigend for kids, on a Saturday morning is a bit too much. This is not an overgeneralization. The university has a long list of Asian American kids on their waiting list, most of whom are Chinese and Indian Americans, two large ethnic groups that hold the high tech jobs in the U.S.

Just imagine. A little girl growing up here in the U.S. is deprived of being a little girl. How do we expect her not to suffer depression? BTW, I read your post last night. I gave my second generation American-born Chinese daughter a big hug and told her that she was very fortunate to have understanding parents. She understood what I meant since we have been talking about the importance of being a happy, well-rounded individual when she grows up.

Interestingly, we have several second and 1.5-generation Asian American friends. They are parents now. None of them would push or deprive their kids the way they were by their immigrant parents. I dare to believe this high suicide problem is the direct cause of the first generation immigrant Asian culture. I am so glad Aileen Duldulao puts an emphasis on that in her summary.

Only if more Asian immigrant parents understand what they are doing to their kids!

Anonymous said...

More info about Iris Chang


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the section in the Chinese in America where she writes about adoption from China to the U.S. I thought she put a pretty negative slant on it. Not that her facts were necessarily innacurate, but could be interpreted as such, due to way they were presented and that there was little positive to balance out the negative. It makes me think the whole book is like that. True, but with a definite tilt toward the negative. So maybe it is not surprising that she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, because it seems to me that she might have used her manic energy to research and write about very depressing topics. One thing that stands out about Chinese history, whether it is in China or the U.S., is that Chinese people (overall) seem to be good at enduring more than their fair share of hardship. Seems like Iris finally wore herself out writing about it. R.I.P. Iris.
Sue (aka anonymous)