Adverse childhood experiences and suicidality: school connectedness as a protective factor for ethnic minority adolescents

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Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase risk for suicidality. School connectedness can be protective, whether it buffers the negative effects of ACEs across ethnic backgrounds is understudied. Method: Data came from the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey. The analytic sample included Latino (n = 11,888), Somali (n = 2,302), Hmong (n = 3,503), and non-Hispanic (NH) White (n = 10,968) adolescents. Multivariable logistic regression models, stratified by ethnicity and sex, examined associations between ACEs, school connectedness, and suicide ideation and attempts. Results: More than 40% of students reported ≥1 ACE. Significant differences in suicidality across ethnicity and sex were noted, with Latinas reporting the highest rates and Somali boys and girls reporting some of the lowest. The likelihood of suicidality was significantly higher with each additional ACE (OR range 1.70–2.23), regardless of ethnicity or sex. School connectedness was generally protective against suicidal ideation; e.g., for each unit of school connectedness, the odds of ideation were 29% lower for Latinas (OR = 0.71; 95%, CI: 0.62, 0.80). However, it only buffered the impact of ACEs on suicidality for NH White adolescents. Discussion: Suicide prevention programs should be designed through an intersectional framework and be adapted and relevant to promote social connectedness to increase access to tangible, emotional social support for youth of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Findings suggest further studies are needed to identify factors that moderate the impact of ACEs for all adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105637
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Adolescent
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Hmong
  • Immigrant
  • Latino American
  • Somali
  • Suicide


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