Florida Public Health Review

Publication Date

September 2009


The purpose of this study was to describe the role of substance abuse as a mediating factor between early sexual experiences and suicide attempts among adult Latinas. In our study participants (n=158), nearly 15% had attempted suicide and 39% experienced their first sexual encounter at an age of 15 or younger (referred to hereafter as “early sex”). Latinas who experienced early sex were more likely to attempt suicide [OR=2.4, p<0.05], and this relationship was largely mediated by substance abuse. An early sexual debut may indicate an environmental adversity on the child that calls for long term intervention for prevention of substance abuse as well as promotion of psychological well-being later in life.