Suicidal ideation and mental health of Bhutanese refugees in the United States

Author(s): Trong AO ; Sharmila SHETTY ; Teresa SIVILLI ; Curtis BLANTON ; Heidi ELLIS ; Paul L. GELTMAN ; Jennifer COCHRAN ; Eboni TAYLOR ; Emily W. LANKAU ; Barbara LOPES CARDOZO


Refugee agencies noticed a high number of suicides among Bhutanese refugees resettled in the United States between 2009 and 2012. We aimed to estimate prevalence of mental health conditions and identify factors associated with suicidal ideation among Bhutanese refugees. We conducted a stratified random cross-sectional survey and collected information on demographics, mental health conditions, suicidal ideation, and post-migration difficulties. Bivariate logistic regressions were performed to identify factors associated with suicidal ideation. Prevalence of mental health conditions were: depression (21 %), symptoms of anxiety (19 %), post-traumatic stress disorder (4.5 %), and suicidal ideation (3 %), significant risk factors for suicidal ideation included: not being a provider of the family; perceiving low social support; and having symptoms of anxiety and depression. These findings suggest that Bhutanese refugees in the United States may have a higher burden of mental illness relative to the US population and may benefit from mental health screening and treatment. Refugee communities and service providers may benefit from additional suicide awareness training to identify those at highest risk.

Tags: Anxiety disorders, Depressive disorders, PTSD, Suicidality, Bhutan, USA

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