Asians love being the best. But here’s one superlative we don’t love–Asian-American women are most likely to think about and attempt suicide, more than all other Americans, according to a new University of Washington study.
The study, published in the current issue of the Archives of Suicide Research, found that 15.93 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American women have contemplated suicide in their lifetime, as opposed to 13.5 percent for all Americans, and that suicide attempts among us were also higher than the general population, at 6.29 percent vs. 4.6 percent. It did not attempt to explain why Asian-American women have more suicidal tendencies, however:
“It is unclear why Asian-Americans who were born in the United States have higher rates of thinking about and attempting suicide,” said Aileen Duldulao, lead researcher of the study.
But if you’re an Asian-American woman who has struggled with depression her whole life like I have, it’s not unclear to you, is it? You don’t need this study, published in 2007, to tell you that we own some of the highest rates of depression and suicide because we’re pushed to achieve. Or this one, published in 2008, to tell you that Asian-Americans are less likely than any other group to seek treatment for mental health disorders. You know this already. You know it in your bones. Personally, not scientifically.
You know it because, growing up, there was no such thing as “depression.” Because feeling blue always had something to do with you “not trying hard enough.” And feeling like you wanted to yell at somebody or start crying in class over nothing was the result of “not having enough self-control.” And wanting to feel better simply involved “doing better.” How could you be unhappy when your father hugged you? (His father beat him with a stick.) How could you feel sad when you had your own bedroom, your own phone, call-waiting for Christ’s sake? (Your mother had her ancestral home stolen from her, pillaged, plundered, sold for scrap. Top that.) What is this “therapy”? What are these “drugs”? If you really think you have problems, could you please keep quiet about them? Better not to advertise your own failure. Best to keep silent, lock up those feelings in shame, and, while you’re at it, lose a few pounds, your moonface is starting to look fat.
I don’t really know how to end this post without sounding like a PSA. I’ve been in therapy for 12 years, and I’ve been medicated for all kinds of things–anxiety, insomnia, depression. At times, I think my family has viewed me as “the crazy one” because I’ve been open with them and the rest of the world about how I’m dealing with my depression. And you know what? I don’t give a fuck. On the subject of mental health, I not only talk, I tend to ramble, because keeping silent and being ashamed of it, that’s really the crazy thing.
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