Immigration and suicidal behavior among Mexicans and Mexican Americans

Guilherme Borges, Joshua Breslau, Maxwell Su, Matthew Miller, Maria Elena Medina-Mora, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Scopus citations


Objectives. We examined migration to the United States as a risk factor for suicidal behavior among people of Mexican origin. Methods. We pooled data from 2 nationally representative surveys in the United States (2001-2003; n=1284) and Mexico (2001-2002; n=5782). We used discrete time survival models to account for time-varying and time-invariant characteristics, including psychiatric disorders. Results. Risk for suicidal ideation was higher among Mexicans with a family member in the United States (odds ratio [OR]=1.50; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.06, 2.11), Mexican-born immigrants who arrived in the United States at 12 years or younger (OR=1.84; 95% CI=1.09, 3.09), and US-born Mexican Americans (OR=1.56; 95% CI=1.03, 2.38) than among Mexicans with neither a history of migration to the United States nor a family member currently living there. Risk for suicide attempts was also higher among Mexicans with a family member in the United States (OR=1.68; 95% CI=1.13, 2.52) and US-born Mexican Americans (OR=1.97; 95% CI=1.06, 3.65). Selection bias caused by differential migration or differential return migration of persons at higher risk of suicidal ideation or attempt did not account for these findings. Conclusions. Public health efforts should focus on the impact of Mexico-US migration on family members of migrants and on US-born Mexican Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-733
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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