Online Program

Web of pain: Suicidal and self-harm behaviors among young Asian-American women

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 5:30 p.m. - 5:50 p.m.

Hyeouk Chris Hahm, PhD, LCSW, School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
The majority of research on identity formation and mental health among children of immigrants has neglected Asian-Americans in particular, which further perpetuates the “Model Minority Myth.” Furthermore, this myth detracts from the growing mental health crisis specifically for women of this population, as teenage and young adult Asian-American women's suicide rates have markedly increased over the last decade. Thus, this qualitative study analyzed the experiences of 1.5 and 2nd generation Asian-American women (aged 18-35) who reported a history of suicidal behaviors, self-harm behaviors, or both. Our analyses revealed that these women expressed feeling alienated from their parents in childhood and subsequent difficulty in integrating a cohesive identity. Thus, in an attempt to cope with a poor self-image and suppressed emotions, women engaged in harmful behaviors and/or had suicidal thoughts. These women are stuck in the “web of pain,” that they cannot possibly break it apart by themselves without help from their family, community, or the professionals. To describe this process, we developed the Fractured Identity Model. These findings suggest that prevention of suicidality and self-harm behaviors among Asian-Americans (and, more broadly, children of immigrants) should start from strengthening parent-child relationships.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the process of developing mental health and substance use problems among young Asian-American women who are children of immigrants.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have published more than 25 peer reviewed journal articles, and more than 10 articles of these specifically examined HIV/AIDS or LGBT health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.