Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rates of Depression and Suicide High for Asian-Am Females

HHS reports that Asian-American girls and women between 15 and 24 have the highest suicide rate among all females in the same age group. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for this group, after accidents. Model minority, parental pressure and undiagnosed depression are among the many possible factors.

None of this surprises me. Asian parents often treat their sons differently from their daughters. They expect their daughters to be smart, innocent and obedient, to be everything to everybody, whereas they let the boys do what they want to do. In my own experience, I've noticed that Vietnamese girls do much better in school than Vietnamese boys. At my high school, all the Vietnamese kids in my AP classes were girls-- the Vietnamese boys were often hanging out in the parking lot, wearing their wifebeaters and flipflops, and talking about how they were going to lower their Acura Integras (it's no wonder I never had a Vietnamese boyfriend).

And depression in Asian culture often goes untreated. In fact, I wonder if many Asian parents even believe there's such a thing as mental illness. I have an aunt who has become sick recently. I've asked a bunch of times what exactly she is suffering from, and every time I get some vague answer like "Well, she says crazy things. She's had a really hard life and she thinks too much about the past and that causes her a lot of stress. She really shouldn't think about that stuff."

When I was about to leave for college my parents asked me if I knew what I wanted to study. I had given it a lot of thought and told them I wanted to be a psychiatrist. Immediately, my parents erupted in anger and disbelief. "You won't make any money! Nobody goes to a psychiatrist. We don't know anyone who goes. Do you want to be around insane people all day long?" And the icing on the cake: my dad said, "Why don't I take you to a mental institution and see if you like it."

1 comment:

junebee said...

Wow, that's unfortunate. There's similar issues where I live with the Hispanic community, because mental health issues are thought best kept to one's self.