Adoption Stories from Adopted the Movie - A Feature Film by Barb Lee

May 16, 2007

Suicide Second-Leading Cause of Death Among Asian American Women 15-24

CNN reported today on a study finding that Asian-American women ages 15-24 have the highest suicide rate of women in any race or ethnic group in the same age group and that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Asian-American women in that age range.

Eliza Noh, an assistant professor of Asian-American studies at California State University at Fullerton who worked on the study (and whose sister committed suicide) spoke with CNN about family pressure and stereotypes of Asians that can lead to increased rates of depression.

"Depression starts even younger than age 15. Noh says one study has shown that as young as the fifth grade, Asian-American girls have the highest rate of depression so severe they’ve contemplated suicide.

As Noh and others have searched for the reasons, a complex answer has emerged.

First and foremost, they say "model minority" pressure — the pressure some Asian-American families put on children to be high achievers at school and professionally — helps explain the problem … But Noh says pressure from within the family doesn’t completely explain the shocking suicide statistics for young women like her sister.

She says American culture has adopted the myth that Asians are smarter and harder-working than other minorities.

‘It’s become a U.S.-based ideology, popular from the 1960s onward, that Asian-Americans are smarter, and should be doing well whether at school or work.’

Noh added that simply being a minority can also lead to depression."

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