Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Real Legacy of Tiger Mom Parenting: A Report on Depression among Asian American Teens

On the heels of the Tiger Mom phenomena NAMI has published a report about depression and suicide among teenage girls in the Asian American community.  It's not pretty.  Among the findings on this report:
  • Asian American girls have the highest rates of depressive symptoms of any racial/ethnic or gender group;
  • Young Asian American women ages 15 to 24 die from suicide at a higher rate than other racial/ethnic groups;
  • Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian Americans overall, compared to the ninth leading cause of death for white Americans;
  • Older Asian American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over 65; and
  • Among Southeast Asians, 71 percent meet criteria for major affective disorders such as depression—with 81 percent among Cambodians and 85 percent among Hmong. 
While the NAMI report raises awareness for an important problem, it also raises more questions that it answers.  For example, assigning all Asian Americans to one group is to combine almost unimaginably diverse demographic under a single banner; do different patterns emerge when you look at various subgroups?  What makes the numbers statistically accurate?  What are the cultural patterns driving this trend?  Does it have anything to do with what has recently become known at Tiger Parenting as popularized by Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother? I hope this report generates additional research to get more visibility into this topic.  You can read the NAMI report it here

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