Racial Disparities in Mental Health Service Use by Adolescents Who Thought About or Attempted Suicide

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Abstract

Differences in rates and predictors of mental health service use among 2,226 Black, Hispanic, and White adolescents (aged 12–17) who reported recent suicidal thoughts or an attempt were examined. Black adolescents were 65% (OR = .65, p < .05), and Hispanic adolescents were 55% (OR = .55, p < .001), as likely as White adolescents to report service use, even when controlling for need for care and ability to secure services. Suicide attempt and psychiatric symptoms each interacted with race to increase the odds of service use uniquely for White adolescents. Results indicate that racial disparities characterize adolescents' mental health service use even when suicide risk increases.

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