Yovanska Duarte-Velez, Ph.D.

Yovanska Duarte-Velez, Ph.D.

Yovanska Duarte-Velez, Ph.D., University of Puerto Rico

Young Investigator Grant (2009): $85,000

Mentor: Anthony Spirito, Ph.D., Brown University

Development of a Treatment Protocol for Suicidal Latino/a Adolescents


Abstract: Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 10 to 24-year-old Latinos/as in the U.S. and the third in 14 to 24-year-olds living in Puerto Rico. Research on suicidal behavior with Latino/a adolescents is very limited. Latino/a adolescents are at an increased risk for suicide relative to White youth and are the fastest growing ethnic minority in the U.S. Serious disparities in the delivery of mental health services to the Latino population have been evidenced. No culturally informed and evidence based treatment has been developed for suicidal Latino/a adolescents. The aim of the proposed study is to develop and pilot test a culturally competent treatment manual for suicidal Latino/a adolescents. Adaptations to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatment manual, previously utilized with depressed Latino/a adolescents will be made to address suicidal behavior. Initial adaptations and the development of new modules will be conducted based on previous studies. Adaptations will be based on quantitative and qualitative data from a clinical sample of adolescents with suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms and outcomes from former studies with suicidal Latino/a adolescents, initial adaptations and the development of new modules will be conducted based on previous studies. In a second phase, the treatment protocol will be tested with twelve adolescents referred for suicidal behavior (suicide ideation or suicide attempts) to refine and assess the protocol’s feasibility. This study represents an important step towards developing a treatment that could benefit Latinos/as in Puerto Rico and the U.S., because it will produce a bilingual culturally sensitive treatment protocol for suicidal adolescents.