Advocates discuss need to end mental health stigma among AAPI communities

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Suicide rates are alarmingly high among Asian Americans between the ages of 15 and 24-years-old. It’s the leading cause of death in that age range, and higher than any other ethnic group in America, according to the CDC.

Experts said cultural norms play a role in how mental health is treated.

“There’s a saying in China, ‘keep your family sacred behind the dark,'” said Fei Li, a social worker for Asian Services Action Inc. “Mental health issues, or family private issues, you’d rather solve them within your family within your tight network. In general, you want to solve it with your own resources until you cannot, then you ask for help.”

Refuting that mindset is a rallying cry to address the health crisis young Asian Americans are facing.
Suicide is responsible for about 33% of deaths — it falls to 21% for whites, 15% for Hispanics and just under 10% the for Black community.

Amid a fight to stop Asian hate, the issue hits home for the CEO of Asian Services Inc, Elaine Tso. “I used to be more reticent about a whole variety of issues. But as I continue to be in this role I continue to be more outspoken,” she said.

Outspoken about alarming trends adding to the already existing stress of COVID-19 among other things. The issues for older Asian Americans may be pre-existing when they came to this country. But for those between 15 and 24-year-old, the issues may include the pressure of academic success.

Li says suicide is preventable and reminds AAPI community members not to let language barriers stop them from getting help.

“If you feel like you are in a dark hole and there is no sun or no light. Try to poke your finger out of the paper box. Get some light into it and one day you’ll feel like you’re not in that corner anymore,” she said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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