Racial Associations Between Gambling and Suicidal Behaviors Among Black and White Adolescents and Young Adults

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Purpose of Review: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Black youth ages 10–19 years. Between 1991 and 2017, rates of suicide among Black youth have been increasing faster than rates among any other race/ethnic group. There are many factors that may explain this increase, with gambling being suggested as one such potential risk factor. This review examines the association between gambling and suicide behaviors, and how these associations may vary between Black and White youth and young adults. The current review examines these associations using data from the Missouri Family Study (MOFAM). Recent Findings: Recent findings have revealed distinct patterns of substance use initiation and gambling behaviors between Black youth and White youth. While strong links between gambling and suicide behaviors have also been reported, whether the associations were consistent across race/ethnicity groups was not investigated, nor in these cross-sectional analyses was it possible to determine whether the gambling behaviors preceded or followed suicidality. Thus, there is a need to investigate whether there are differences in the associations of gambling and suicide behaviors at the race/ethnicity level in tandem with data that examine the sequence of the behaviors. The current report focuses on racial/ethnic differences using data that allow for sequencing the occurrence of the behaviors via the age of first gambling experience, and of first suicidal symptom, to better distinguish the nature of the association. Summary: The current findings revealed that gambling initiation predicted suicide ideation among Black youth, while no significant association was found among White youth. This is of major public health concern, given the rising rates of suicide among Black youth, and the increased availability of gambling. The report did not find a link between gambling and suicide attempts. Culturally tailored interventions should be considered among schools, families, and clinicians/providers, to highlight the risk of adolescent gambling, particularly among Black youth.