(2018) The Relationship Between Intimate Partner Violence and Suicidal Ideation among Young Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese American Women

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High depression and suicide rates are critical problems that have a significant impact on the lives of young Asian American women. Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been identified as a predictor of suicidality in general female samples, but no research study has examined the relationship between IPV and suicidality in a sample of 1.5 and second-generation Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese American women. We used data collected from 173 women (aged 18-35 years) who were screened for eligibility to participate in the development and efficacy study of Asian American Women’s Action for Resilience and Empowerment (AWARE). We measured the prevalence of (a) IPV, (b) lifetime suicidal ideation/intent, and (c) childhood abuse and tested the association between IPV and lifetime suicidal ideation/intent among study participants who completed the clinical screening assessments. The results indicated that seven out of 10 women in our sample experienced lifetime suicidal ideation/intent, psychological aggression was the most commonly reported form of IPV during the last six months, followed by sexual coercion, and history of physical and/or sexual partner violence had the most robust association with lifetime suicidal ideation/intent after controlling for demographic factors and childhood abuse. Our study suggests that suicide prevention and intervention programs for young 1.5 and second-generation Asian American women should not only address experiences of childhood abuse, but also incorporate culturally adapted behavioral health approaches to identify and target physical and sexual partner violence. Furthermore, any such programs need to integrate a systemic approach in addressing IPV within the context of various marginalized experiences of Asian American women.

KEYWORDS: Asian American women; childhood abuse; intimate partner violence; suicide; trauma