The Effects of Brief, Passive Psychoeducation on Suicide Literacy, Stigma, and Attitudes Toward Help-Seeking Among Latino Immigrants Living in the United States

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Latino immigrants underutilize mental health treatment services compared with other ethnic groups, despite rates of mental illness that are comparable with those observed among the general population. With regard to suicidal behavior specifically, twice as many Latino suicide attempters do not seek or receive psychiatric services in the year prior to attempting suicide compared with non-Latino White attempters. The main objective of this study was to investigate whether provision of brief, passive psychoeducation in the form of a brochure could increase suicide literacy (i.e., recognizing suicidal behavior, understanding risk factors and causes of suicidal behavior), reduce stigma toward suicidal behavior, and facilitate more positive attitudes toward help-seeking among a population of first-generation Latino immigrants. We hypothesized the participants randomly assigned to the experimental group receiving psychoeducation regarding suicide would demonstrate greater suicide literacy, less suicide stigma, and more positive attitudes toward help-seeking than participants randomly assigned to the control group receiving psychoeducation about exercise. Results revealed that although psychoeducation did significantly increase suicide literacy, it was not effective at changing stigmatizing attitudes toward suicidal individuals or improving attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help. However, lower levels of stigma were associated with more positive attitudes toward seeking help. These findings support the potential for a brief educational intervention to increase literacy among this population, but raise questions about how to effectively reduce stigma and improve attitudes toward treatment-seeking.

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