Racial-Ethnic Microaggressions and Suicidal Ideation for Latinx College Students: Examining the Moderating Effects of Ethnic Identity Affirmation and Social Support



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Approximately 8-20% Latinx college students report suicidal ideation within the last year and previous research has attempted to understand factors that may help to explain these concerning statistics. One such factor is the experience of racial discrimination, as approximately 65% of Latinx people aged 18-29 have reported past discriminatory experiences, which has been significantly and positively related to depressive symptoms, anxiety, psychological distress. Although overt racism and discrimination have been considerably researched, a newer wave of research has focused on more covert forms of discrimination called racial-ethnic microaggressions. REMAS are defined as superficially benign statements, actions, or exchanges that reflect prejudicial or discriminatory beliefs toward a target person or group and has been associated with psychological distress; however, there is limited research examining the impact of REMAS on suicide ideation for Latinx college students specifically; thus, the present study sought to add to the dearth of literature. Participants were 431 U.S. college students aged 18-25 who identified as Latinx or Hispanic. The majority of participants were male (59.4%), senior in college (42.9%), racially White (48.5%), and heterosexual (68.0%). Confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to confirm factor structure of revised MSPSS scales examining perceived social support from people of color and from within one’s same racial or ethnic group. Multiple linear regressions were conducted to test main and interaction effects. Post hoc analyses were also conducted to examine an overall REMAS variable and exclude overall social support from analyses. The CFA results indicated that both of the revised MSPSS measures showed adequate model fit for the hypothesized three-factor solution (i.e., significant other, family, friend support). In the present study, all subtypes of REMAS (workplace and school, second-class citizenship & criminality, exocticism and assumptions of similarity, microinvalidations, assumptions of inferiority, and environmental) were significantly positively related to suicidal ideation for Latinx college students. This suggests that higher reported experiences of REMAS are related to higher reported suicidal ideation. No interaction effects were found; thus, ethnic identity affirmation and perceived social support did not moderate this relationship. Post hoc analyses indicated that all REMAS subtypes and the overall REMAS variable were significantly positively related to suicidal ideation; however, no interaction effects were present. Results indicated that the experience of REMAS may be impactful on suicidal thoughts for Latinx college students, which adds to the limited research examining this relationship, particularly for Latinx individuals. Limitations, strengths, research and practice implications, as well as future research needs are discussed.

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microaggressions, Latinx, suicide