Family Obligation May Lessen Depression Symptoms for Chinese American Teens

Okay, so by now we know that suicide is the second-leading cause for death for Asian American women ages 15-24, the highest rate of all ethnicities. We’ve blogged about the pressure from parents to achieve academically, and even the study on how organized religion may drive Asian American teenagers to depression.

And now for an article that pretty much contradicts everything we’ve previously blogged about: a recent study featured in a LA Times Health article asserts that family involvement and obligation doesn’t drive Asian American youth to suicide, but may actually lessen depressive symptoms. From the authors of study: “Programs geared toward immigrant youth from cultures where family obligation is central could emphasize youth’s collective identity to strengthen ties to their family and culture and, in the process, remind youth of their family obligation.” But cultural pressures and family obligation aren’t necessarily binary, as Tim points out in a recent internal e-mail thread:

I agree with both sides of the coin. The push to succeed does increase the suicide rate, but I also believe the family ties help prevent the person from going through with it. In Asian (specifically Chinese) culture there’s such strong family ties, that even if you hate your dad (for example) or feel such strong pressure to succeed, you probably still feel strongly attached to a sibling or the other parent, who you’d want to protect, and you’d feel guilty for leaving them if you killed yourself. So I’m sure there’s some degree of truth to both.

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About Ernie

I'm the creator of 8 Asians and one of the editors. While I'm a regular blogger to the site as well, think of my role as Barbara Walters on "The View," except without the weird white hair. During the day, I'm a Developer for a major Internet company and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've also been writing in my blog,, for seven years.
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