DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! Asian-American Women Most Likely to Attempt Suicide

August 21st, 2009 | 7 comments | Posted by Jen

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.

[Science Daily: US-born Asian-American Women More Likely To Think About, Attempt Suicide, Study Finds]


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7 Responses to “DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! Asian-American Women Most Likely to Attempt Suicide”

  1. Hello Kitty says:

    What no one has posted a comment, not even a year later?! Fine, I’ll be the first. And this will be my first “public” confession that suicidal thoughts have passed through my mind, as a teenager, young woman, and as middle-aged woman of two sons. Yes, I too suffer from depression. And ADD, so it’s double whammy for me. I’ve described my depressed self as my Evil Twin. She creeps in and takes over my life, feeding my brain with lies, guilt, shame, self-destructive thoughts. Evil Twin refuses to let me nourish my body with healthy food, rest, or sleep. She drapes her black cloak of Depression over my spirit to suffocate it.

    I am much stronger than before, now understand my true gifts and talents, have self-confidence that is authentic and organic. And yes, therapy was key. And medication. And having solid support from true friends who understand.

    I’ve done so much work. In my regular life only my mother and brother accept all of me (Dad would too but he passed away years ago). No, I don’t reveal my “defects” (others’ label NOT MINE) because I don’t have the freedom to cast off all chains. I am a wife and mother, have a public life. Sometimes this self-imposed silence is stifling, and it feeds my bad spells. I’ve just about given up finding peers in my “home community” who will listen and accept. Shame and “face” are skins that we Chinese just can’t, won’t shed.

    But it’s okay, because in the end it’s what I think about myself that matters. And I don’t want to vanquish my Evil Twin. Why? She is part of me, the other side of the coin that is my identity.

  2. Jen says:

    @Hello Kitty This post went up on our old site, when we hadn’t enabled comments yet. Thank you, though, for being the first!

  3. Hello Kitty says:

    Okay, thanks, good to know that it’s a tech situation not silence among the masses. I just found your story via angry asian man.

  4. Diana says:

    @Hello Kitty “I don’t want to vanquish my Evil Twin. Why? She is part of me, the other side of the coin that is my identity.” Really beautiful, and true.

    I think people spend a lot of time pathologizing our actions and labeling our dysfunctions, our “defects.” Maybe instead, we can accept that this is who we are and what we do, that all of us are just finding ways to survive and be. Perhaps there is simply more to understand than there is to fix.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  5. Hello Kitty says:

    @Diana, thank you for the compliment. I am touched.

    My disabilities are part of me, but do not define my identity.

    And I hope other readers will find this original post and add their comments. It’s time we heal ourselves. Own the pain, acknowledge the fears, then release will come, and (hopefully) true freedom.

  6. [...] to rid myself of it. Even after 15 years of treatment. Even after 15 years of being honest and open about it with my family, my friends, NPR listeners even, and, most importantly, myself. I’m a [...]

  7. [...] as I’ve tried to rid myself of it. Even after 15 years of treatment. Even after 15 years of being honest and open about it with my family, my friends, NPR listeners even, and, most importantly, myself. I’m a depressive? [...]

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