Poverty and Suicidal Ideation Among Hispanic Mental Health Care Patients Leading up to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Evan V. Goldstein, Elise V. Bailey, Fernando A. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Suicide rates have risen in Hispanic communities since 2015, and poverty rates among Hispanics often exceed the national average. Suicidality is a complex phenomenon. Mental illness may not alone explain whether suicidal thoughts or behaviors will occur; it remains uncertain how poverty affects suicidality among Hispanic persons with known mental health conditions. Our objective was to examine whether poverty was associated with suicidal ideation among Hispanic mental healthcare patients from 2016 to 2019. Methods: We used de-identified electronic health record (EHR) data from Holmusk, captured using the MindLinc EHR system. Our analytic sample included 4,718 Hispanic patient-year observations from 13 states. Holmusk uses deep-learning natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to quantify free-text patient assessment data and poverty for mental health patients. We conducted a pooled cross-sectional analysis and estimated logistic regression models. Results: Hispanic mental health patients who experienced poverty had 1.55 greater odds of having suicidal thoughts in a given year than patients who did not experience poverty. Conclusion: Poverty may put Hispanic patients at greater risk for suicidal thoughts even when they are already receiving treatment for psychiatric conditions. NLP appears to be a promising approach for categorizing free-text information on social circumstances affecting suicidality in clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-10
Number of pages5
JournalHispanic Health Care International
Issue number1
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Hispanic-Americans
  • Latino populations
  • poverty
  • public health
  • social determinant
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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