youths. The 2005 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ‘10 Leading Causes of Death’  highlights
significant mental health disparities among racial/ethnic
groups. Among females 15–24 years old, Asian Americans
and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have the highest rate of
suicide deaths (14.1%) compared to other racial/ethnic
groups (White 9.3%, Black 3.3%, and Hispanic 7.4%) .
AAPI males in the same age range have the second highest
rate of suicide deaths (12.7%) compared to other racial/
ethnic group males in the same age range (White 17.5%,
Black 6.7%, and Hispanic 10%) . Although the recent
Virginia Tech shooting incident serves as a reminder of the
tragic consequences of untreated mental health problems in
youth, these statistics point to the large numbers of youths
whose lives are severely impaired by mental health problems but do not come to the attention of the public.
Despite alarming suicide rates and other indicators of
mental health problems such as depression, this issue continues to be ignored in AAs in general, and particularly in
AA youths. Traditional Asian culture suggests that mental
health problems exist because one cannot control oneself,
and therefore it is considered shameful to reveal that one has
mental health problem or to seek help. Consequently, AAs
oftentimes hide the problem because they fear the associated stigma. AA youths may experience additional
challenges that stem from their position as 1.5 or 2nd
generation immigrants (we define 2nd generation as people
who were born in the U.S., 1.5 generation as immigrants
who came to the US before age 16, and 1st generation as
immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were 16?
years old) [Kim D, 2008, Personal communication]. Since
the level of acculturation differs from that of their parents’
generation or their non-immigrant friends at school, it often
creates stressful situations for them in daily life. However,
the difficulties of this generation are rarely recognized and
addressed. Considering the significance of untreated mental
health concerns for AA and their potentially negative
impact on the larger society (e.g., Virginia Tech shooting),
it is critical to identify factors affecting mental well-being
and mental health care utilization in this group.
In a survey of 1,130 Korean American students aged
from 18–29, authors reported negative mental health outcomes associated with the dual pressure of cultivating
one’s Korean background and values while minimizing
one’s Korean background in order to adapt to the more
individualistic culture of America . In the Patterns of
Youth Mental Health Care in Public Service Systems
Survey of 1,715 youths age 6–17, parents expressed that
American culture and prejudice/racial discrimination were
contributing to the problem behaviors of their children .
Another study of 217 Korean American students (age 13–
18) in Los Angeles reported that ethnic i
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