Sacrifice for the sake of the family: expressions of familism by Latina teens in the context of suicide.Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2012 Jul; 82(3):319-27.AJ
Familism is a core value promoted by many individuals of Hispanic or Latino descent that emphasizes the primacy of the family over the individual. This study illuminates some aspects of the relationship between familism and adolescent suicidal behavior. Qualitative data from 24 female Hispanic teens with and without a history of suicidal behaviors and their parents were analyzed to understand the ways in which familism is expressed in their lives. Both suicide attempters and nonattempters demonstrate familism by making material or emotional (or both) sacrifices for the sake of their families. However, for those attempters who expressed a clear intent to die, a third type of sacrifice emerged: Girls expressed a desire to kill themselves in order to make things better for their families, literally sacrificing themselves for the sake of family. Findings point to the complexity of familism in understanding the risks of suicide attempts among teen Latinas and to the value of mixed methods in studying deeply the cultural factors that influence problem behaviors.