Cultural Consensus Modeling to identify culturally relevant reasons for and against suicide among Black adolescents

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2023 Sep 8:10.1111/sltb.13000. doi: 10.1111/sltb.13000. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The development of evidence-based treatments relies on accurate theoretical frameworks sensitive to the lived realities of the populations from which they are derived. Yet, the perspectives of Black youth are vastly underrepresented in extant theories of suicidal behavior. Cultural Consensus Modeling provides an evidence-based approach for developing a culturally informed understanding of suicide risk among Black youth.

Method: Participants were 50 Black adolescents (Mage = 16.20 years; 76.0% male) who completed Phase 1 of a Cultural Consensus Modeling study. Participants freely listed reasons for suicide and reasons for living among similar peer Black youth. Responses were synthesized and coded for major themes.

Results: The most common reasons for suicide were racism (40%), depression (32%), poverty (26%), and bullying (22%). The most common reasons for living were family (58%), having a purpose or goals (36%), friends (30%), and hope for a better future (26%).

Conclusion: Responses highlighted issues of racism and social justice, depression, and poverty, as well as the protective role of relationships, living for the future, and contributing to Black empowerment. Future research should utilize Cultural Consensus Modeling to elevate the voices of Black youth, improving extant theories of suicide, and identifying unique mechanisms or opportunities for prevention.

Keywords: cultural consensus modeling; minoritized population; youth.