"Can we talk"?: longitudinal analysis of Latino & non-Hispanic parent-child connectedness & adolescent ideation

Publication Year


Journal Article

Over 16 million U.S. adults report a major depressive episode each year. Hispanic females comprise the highest number of U.S. births compared to other race/ethnicities and are expected to remain as the Hispanic population grows. Research postulates that depression often co-occurs within families and is passed down to future generations but has yet to determine racial/ethnic disparities for depression and more acute forms including ideation.

Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, latent class analyses examined the association of primary caregiver’s (PCG) depressive symptoms and how their child’s perceived level of parent-child closeness is related to their now-adolescent’s (age 15) likelihood of ideation (N = 4,898 families).


Hispanic PCG’s reported a lower rate of depressive symptoms (37%) than non-Hispanic PCG’s (45%). Hispanic PCG’s depressive symptoms were more likely to be chronic throughout their adolescent’s lifetime (15%). Regardless of race/ethnicity, PCG’s chronic depressive symptoms negatively affected parental closeness and increased suicidal risk for adolescents. These associations were found at ages 9 and 15 for non-Hispanic families, and at age 15 for Hispanic families.


While this is an important first step, parental closeness and ideation can wax and wane. Asking teens about ideation before adolescence could have strengthened our study.


Suicide prevention must be family system focused, and not solely adolescent focused. Impressing upon individuals who serve children (i.e. teachers) and adults (i.e. physicians) to include yearly depression and suicide screens/assessments is crucial given PCG’s different wave presentations and how ideation can present as early as middle school.

Children and Youth Services Review