Archives of General Internal Medicine

Research Paper - Archives of General Internal Medicine (2019) Volume 3, Issue 1

Subjective Financial Status and Suicidal Ideation among American College Students: Racial Differences

Purpose: The current study aimed to compare American Black and White college students for the protective effect of subjective socioeconomic status (SES) on suicidal ideation. Methods: This study used data from the Healthy Mind Study (HMS 2015-2017). This study included 2,983 undergraduate college students who were at least 18 years of old. These participants were either White (n=2,704) or Black (n=279). The dependent variable was suicidal ideation. The independent variable was subjective SES. Age, gender, transition status, first generation status, and social isolation were covariates. Race/ethnicity was the moderator. Logistic regressions were applied to test the effect of subjective SES on suicidal ideation in the overall sample and by race/ ethnicity. Results: In the overall sample, high subjective SES was associated with less suicidal ideation in the pooled sample of college students. A significant interaction was found between race and subjective SES on suicide risk, suggesting a larger protective effect of high subjective SES for Whites than Blacks. In race-stratified models, high subjective SES was associated with less suicidal ideation for White college students but not for Black college students. Conclusions: Consistent with the Minorities? Diminished Returns theory and in line with previous research that has documented worse mental health of high SES Blacks particularly Black men, this study showed that high SES protects White college students but not Black college students against suicidal ideation. While Whites with low SES are protected against risk of suicide, risk of suicidal ideation seems to be constant regardless of SES among Black college students.

Author(s): Shervin Assari

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