Adolescent research targeting largely understudied minority groups has found disproportionate rates of problematic substance use in some groups, and also cites a link between substance use and suicide risk.
Based on data from national school-based surveys covering the 1991-2015 period, the research at the University of California, Riverside included a special focus on three groups that are not often accounted for in youth studies: Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and multiracial individuals. Among the researchers' findings was that multiracial and Pacific Islander youth showed disparities compared with non-Hispanic whites in use of street drugs such as heroin.
Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the research also found that for all racial groups except for Pacific Islanders, past-month alcohol use was linked to a 1.5 to 2.1 times greater likelihood of having attempted suicide in the past year.
“To reduce suicide among school youth, we might consider paying closer attention to preventing their use of alcohol and cigarettes and implementing these prevention programs in school settings to reach vulnerable adolescents at risk for suicide,” said Andrew Subica, assistant professor of social medicine, population and public health at the university.
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