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zt 亚裔孩子为什么自杀?

(2018-01-11 07:18:50) 下一个

Why Are Asian American Kids Killing Themselves?

Editor’s Note: This guest article is by George Qiao

Asian American college students are 1.6 times more likely than all others to make a serious suicide attempt. They are 3 times less likely to seek out professional therapy or counseling. Across all students, about 24% are estimated to experience suicidal ideation at some point in their time at school. It’s safe to assume that the proportion for Asian American students is even higher. When I entered university in 2014, Asian American student deaths at Yale, MIT, and UPenn were making national headlines. Recently, the death of Luke Tang at Harvard University prompted a university-wide conference on Asian American mental illness and the filming of Looking for Luke, which follows Luke’s parents’ life after their son’s passing.

Increasing national focus on Asian American youth’s suicide rates has coincided with the growth of our mainstream liberal political movement. Mental health initiatives are becoming ubiquitous at large universities and in Asian neighborhoods. Conferences such as Harvard’s attract hundreds of participants from all over the country. The popular image of the number-crunching Asian robot has broken down. Ali Wong’s jokes about miscarriage and Eddie Huang’s body-empowering line of panda themed underwear herald a new era of vulnerability. Asian women even took center stage on Logic’s performance at the Video Music Awards. At the center of this whirlpool of attention is the search for an explanation for our community’s struggles with mental illness.

The dominant model we’ve come up with is that Asian kids collapse in a pressure cooker of parental expectations and cultural stigma. The story goes that Asian parents raise their children ignorant of the stress their expectations cause. Immigrant narratives overwhelm students with the impossible demand of a return on interest. Asian kids are stretched so thin that only a lucky few don’t suffer some kind of breakdown by the end of high school. Hanging over every family is a strict cultural network that, since the days of Confucius and the Buddha, discourages emotion and favors self-control through hard work. Refusing to quit this outdated thinking causes families to miss out on a sense of national belonging, placing further strain on children. Arriving at college, Asian students are neither able to adapt to the competitive environment nor adjust to a community where emotional openness is accepted. Conversations with parents, already difficult at home, become clogged with intergenerational static. Eventually, the stress erodes away their ability to endure, leading to anxiety, depression, and, in the long run, suicidal ideation.

This was the model explored when I attended Harvard’s conference last spring. Hundreds of students, parents, and educators packed the reception rooms. A screening of Looking for Luke was the first event of the day. Afterwards, attendees were split into breakout sessions, which focused on how parents can support their children as they move through high school and transition into difficult college environments. Biting down on croissants and fidgeting in their dresses, parents expressed surprise and guilt as they were told of their generation’s failure. However, the conference ended on a positive note, as keynote speakers reassured attendees that students’ mental health struggles could be overcome as long as parents made an effort to change their ways.

I recognized those looks of surprise and guilt on my own parents’ face when I told them about the panic attacks I suffered in my freshman year at college. They had been talking about Luke, about how they didn’t understand why he had done it. By this time I was well versed in the model. Across the marble counter in our kitchen where we typically chatted during dinner, I accused them of failing to care about my struggles in high school and criticized their English proficiency, which I imagined to be the root cause of our difficulties in conversation. In that moment I saw them as apostles of a foreign spirit I wanted no part of. I wanted them to see my self-hatred, and understand that it was a reflection of their failure to truly integrate into America. Their ignorance of Luke mirrored their ignorance of their son, and so I told them until my throat grew hoarse.

I am not surprised that our movement, which has come far enough to recognize the gendered racism in Asian-white relationships, the supremacist philosophy of assimilationist politics, and the vital role of affirmative action in our fight against oppression, seems to embrace a model of mental illness that cuts down immigrant narratives and identifies Asian cultures as a source of weakness rather than strength. In the fight to assert ourselves, a colonial, anti-Asian ideology remains rooted in our memories of pain. I don’t know what I expected from my parents. My mother left the room. My father looked angry but didn’t say anything. The impression my words left on them stunted our conversations for weeks.

That high expectations, responsible parents, and strong connections to cultural backgrounds in Asian American families give rise to suicidal children is a uniquely American paradox. However, we should not be surprised. Model minority stereotypes and racist rhetoric around families of color lead Asian children to associate strong families with Asian-ness. Furthermore, America’s denigration of Asian men, fetishization of Asian women, and general xenophobia toward Asian peoples link Asian-ness to badness. Asian American children are therefore brought up believing that their families are bad. For white families and families of color, responsible and firm parenting is celebrated, while for Asian families, they are shameful and problematic.

An outpouring of this sort of hypocrisy emerged in the national response to Amy Chua’s The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in 2011. The ideas that Chua put forth are not novel: children are not responsible enough to make decisions regarding their future, good parenting must be firm and confident, hard work is necessary for children even if it’s not fun. Hundreds of parenting books have been written on the same topics. What drew fire was the fact that her writing was about Asian children. Positive responses to the book declared that non-Asian parents should adopt Chua’s recommendations, whereas negative reviews condemned Chua for the imagined harm that her parenting was surely taking on her children. White parents would have the intuition and know-how to implement Chua’s parenting strategically. Asian parents, emotionally distant and lacking fluency in American ways, are surely taking it too far.

Strong families and hard-working children are not unique to Asian culture. Academic achievement is closely tied to parents’ immigration status, parents’ socioeconomic class, and parents’ education level for all racial groups (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3442927/). Higher education level, socioeconomic class, and immigration status all correspond to higher achievement for children of all racial groups. The Asian population’s achievement is a reflection of its higher proportion of privileged parents due to America’s skewed immigration policies. That privileged children perform better than their underprivileged counterparts is a black mark on America’s schools and treatment of its people. To believe that Asian children are inherently better at school due to their race or cultural background is to buy into a racist hierarchy.

Only Asian American children have significantly higher rates of suicidal ideation and depression. Perhaps it has to do with the stigma against discussing mental illness in Asian communities. However, even rudimentary research into other communities of color reveals that such stigmas are not unique to Asians. Perhaps there it’s an inexplicable but somehow intrinsic quality of Asian cultures. However comparisons reveal that Asian American college suicide rates are on par with, if not higher than, rates in Asian countries. In places where “Asian culture” is most concentrated, suicide is not noticeably higher. It follows that Asian culture is not some kind of mentally destructive force.

The narrative of harmful Asian-ness halts immigrant parents’ sense of belonging in this country, and widens the false dissociation Asian Americans feel between being happy and being Asian. When I blamed my parents for the harm that my environment causes me, I not only did nothing to resolve my problems, but also drove deeper the generational wedge between us. On a whole-population level, this problematizates Asian-ness and fractures any possibility of cohesiveness between generations. The end result is stagnation of our formation of a sense of self. In a country that deems us worthless, the maintenance of our racial selves is like trying to light a match in a thunderstorm. Seeing our parents and our heritage as the cause of that worthlessness only makes things worse.

The idea that Asian families and Asian-ness are uniquely harmful to Asian Americans needs to be abandoned. If we refuse to examine the way that this country’s prejudices condition us to be in conflict with our own parents, we will never be able to heal and thrive as a community. Strong conceptions of the racial self, connection to racial communities, and understanding of systems of oppression have been shown to correlate with positive self-esteem and reduced risk of depression in other communities of color. Although it will be the same for us, we must do the appropriate work.

We must shift our blame onto the model minority, perpetual foreigner, and Orientalist stereotypes that constitute our oppression. Despite our familiarity with these tropes, we are unable to believe they produce real consequences on our well-being. They are the root of our hypocritical views on Asian families and mental health resources’ failure to earn the trust of Asian clients.

When a therapist or counselor believes that Asian Americans suffer solely because of familial pressures, they buy into the idea that Asian families are unnatural and inhuman. When they refuse to consider the effects of racially rooted stress on their client’s mental state, they uphold the outdated belief that Asians cannot possibly be affected by racism. Little wonder that the follow-up rate for Asian Americans who do visit therapists is virtually nonexistent. At some level, we understand that heaping criticism on our families neither helps us understand ourselves nor provides a practical solution for our problems.

While the demand for professionals trained to address the needs of Asian Americans is widespread, this training lacks specificity. What training exists, following the pressure cooker model, has counselors locating the source of the problem within Asian communities. The one and only time I visited my college’s mental health services, a white lady reassured me that she’d seen lots of Asian students with “similar problems”, and encouraged me to “be more open” in my relationship with my parents. I left without a clue as to what I was actually supposed to do. While I have no confidence that America’s mostly white population of mental health care providers can truly embrace and have conversations about race and mental illness, some training is better than none. The increasing diversification of the population of care-providers also gives me hope that services will improve.

I no longer want to listen to the argument that Asian suicides are somehow to be expected given our “culture”. I do not want to open the latest heartbreaking email and weigh the odds that the name will be like my own, or imagine how a mother crumples with foreign guilt added to her despair. The patronizing tone with which white experts explain their theory about our families enrages me; I am deaf to news articles and think pieces that, year after year, draw the same tired conclusions about our community. I want to believe that my own children will one day be proud of who they are, and will not flinch when they hear me speak my mother tongue to a friend on the street. The wounds and words I spoke into existence with my parents should never have existed in a country that loves its people, but I must repair them.

The movement to drain the sea of self-hatred in our community has begun in earnest. But we cannot love ourselves if we do not first affirm our love for our families in the face of America’s demands that we toss them away. Amputating our anti-Asian views on our health is difficult when we were raised to believe them. But they must be removed if we are to heal. Our lives depend on it.




乔少华 (George S. Qiao)










正 如编辑部征文通告所言,定居他乡的我们每谈到出国,心中难免都会随之涌起一阵感慨沧桑。二十年,三十年的光阴已然流逝,几人得暇回首当年?可是,随着时光 流去,还有另外一件事情和出国既密不可分却又往往不会立刻自动联系起来:在这二三十年里,我们的孩子们在我们这些父母带领之下,在我们为他们设立的特殊环 境之中,已经开始以他们的特殊身份走向社会,走向所居住国的社会。

我 们自己出国时,无论对未来怎样憧憬,肯定都做好了艰苦奋斗的充分准备,其中包括了各种各样的忍辱负重。也许因为准备充分吧,很多诸如玻璃天花板的障碍,或 者直呼为种族歧视,并不足以对我们形成伤害,甚至连伤害的感觉都产生不了。也许正因如此,我们何尝真正将自己视为“外国人”,视自己为“非中国人 (non-Chinese)”?稍加留心就不难发现,我们大多数人仍然习惯以“老中”自称,仍然以“中国人”作为内心的身份认同。



孩 子们自己已经在思考了。乔少华的文章是以英文发表的,读后感触很深。翻译成中文再读就更进一步意识到,孩子们不仅有他们自己的视角,而且有父母完全没有想 到的见解。孩子们是否视自己为“中国人”,家长们又是否应该支持孩子们做“中国人”还是做“非中国人”?这是一个非常尖锐的问题,在很多人也许需要鼓起勇 气才能面对之。可是,如同乔少华文章议论所触及的,这个问题很可能是亚裔孩子不快乐的根本原因,甚至关乎着我们的“生存”。倘若如此,每一位亚裔家长,无 论是否情愿,就都不得不认真想一想了。我们所做的一切不都是为了孩子吗?





乔少华 (George S. Qiao)


亚 裔美国大学生认真尝试自杀的可能性是其他所有人的1.6倍,而他们寻求专业治疗或辅导咨询的可能性却要低3倍。在所有学生中,约有24%的人在在校期间的 某个时间点会生发自杀意念,亚裔学生的比例应该更高。我2014年进入大学时,耶鲁,麻省理工和宾大的亚裔美国学生死亡人数成为当时的全国头条新闻。最 近,哈佛学生卢克·唐(Luke Tang)去世,哈佛为此召开了一场全校范围关于亚裔精神健康的会议,并且开拍了“寻找卢克”的电影,里面追踪了卢克父母在儿子逝世后的生活。

随 着美国主流社会自由主义政治运动势头上升,亚裔美国青少年的高自杀率也在逐渐引起全国注意。例如,在大学和亚裔社区中,到处可见提醒心理健康的宣传。哈佛 大学的这次会议吸引了来自全国各地的数百人到场。以往流行的只钻数学的“亚裔机器人”形象开始破裂。黄阿丽(Ali Wong)的关于流产的笑话和黄颐铭(Eddie Huang)以突出身体部位为主题的熊猫牌内裤则又为亚裔人开启了一个受人奚落的新时代。在音乐录影颁奖仪式上歌手“逻辑”(一位为自杀幸存者发声的流行 歌手)的表演中,亚裔女性甚至占据了舞台中心。无论如何,在这一场注意力高涨的潮流中心是对我们族裔精神问题成因的探索。 

迄 今为止,所能提出的主导模式是,亚裔孩子们在父母高期望与僵硬传统的高压锅中崩溃。具体说,亚裔父母抚养子女时忽略了他们期望过高所带来的压力。在各种移 民故事中,满眼都是不可能实现为自己所承受的期望投资做出相应回报的学生们。亚洲孩子们的弦被过度紧绷,到高中毕业时脑筋没有崩溃的几乎剩不下几个。每个 亚裔家庭都笼罩在一个致密的大网之下,从孔子和佛祖的时代就已经开始,我们的文化传统鼓励人们通过辛勤劳动实现对自己命运的掌控,同时排斥发展个人兴趣。 因为不愿意摆脱这种过时的传统,使得亚裔家庭无法形成对所居住国家的归属感,进一步给孩子带来压力。到了大学,亚洲学生既不能适应竞争的环境,又不能融入 崇尚态度开放的大学气氛之中。在家时与父母的对话已经很困难,进入大学更干脆陷入了代与代之间交流停止的状态。最终,压力侵蚀了他们的忍受力,导致焦虑, 抑郁,以及最终的自杀意念。

我 去年春天参加的那场哈佛大会所探索的主导模式就是这样。数百名学生,家长和教育工作者挤满了礼堂。“寻找卢克”的放映是当天的第一个节目。之后,与会者进 行了分组会议,重点讨论在从高中过渡进入大学环境的困难期间,家长应该如何支持他们的孩子。当家长们得知他们这代人的教育失败时,嘴里的羊角面包停止了嚼 咀,也不再析析琐琐的整理衣服,而开始表达出惊讶与内疚。还好,会议结局还算正面,主旨演讲人向参会者们保证,只要父母努力改变方式,学生们的心理健康问 题就可以得到克服。

家 长们脸上那些惊讶与内疚的样子我在我父母都曾经见过。当我告诉他们我在大学一年级时经历的心理恐慌时,我父母的表情就是同样的惊讶和愧疚。 他们一直在同情卢克,却又怎么也不明白他为什么这样做。所以,哈佛大会上讨论的模式我早已非常熟悉。 隔着我家厨房的大理石台面,我们晚餐时聊天的地方,我指责过我的父母没有关心我在高中时的挣扎,批评他们的英语水平,将其归为我与他们之间交流困难的根 源。 在那一刻,他们在我眼里就好像是人们避之不及的异教徒。 我希望他们看到我的自我仇恨,并且想让他们明白这是他们不能真正融入美国的一个反映。 他们对卢克的无知反映了他们对自己儿子的无知,我费尽力气告诉他们这些,直到我的喉咙变得嘶哑。

如 今,我们的(维权)运动已经走得很远,我们认识到了亚裔-白人关系中的掺有性别因素的种族主义,同化政治中的至上主义哲学,以及在反压迫的平权运动中我们 的重要角色。可是,我却并不意外,在所有这些运动中精神疾病都被刻划为移民形象的组成成分,并且将亚洲文化传统视为软弱,而不是力量,的来源。在树立自我 的斗争中,殖民时代的反亚裔思想带来的痛苦仍然扎根于我们的记忆之中。我不知道我能期望我父母什么。我妈妈离开了房间。我的父亲看起来很生气,但没有说什 么。我的言语留给他们的印象使我们的谈话连续数周难以继续。

亚 裔美国家庭中的高期望值,过度负责任的父母,以及与自己文化传统的强大联系导致了亚裔孩子自杀乃是一个独特的美国悖论。但是,我们不应该因此感到惊讶。 “模范少数族裔”的刻板印象和有色人种躲不开的种族主义言论引领亚裔儿童把重视家庭视为一种亚洲特色。此外,美国社会对亚洲男子的普遍贬低的同时却对亚裔 女性倍加追捧,以及普遍存在的针对亚洲人的排外心理都把“亚洲特色”与劣质联在一起。因此,在美国生长的亚裔孩子自小就在耳濡目染之下相信自己的家庭不 好。对于白人家庭或其他有色族裔家庭来说,有责任感和坚定的养育方式都属于值得效仿,而对于亚洲家庭来说,同样的方式却属于可耻的和问题。

这 种假象的井喷在对蔡美儿(Amy Chua)2011年的“虎妈战歌”一书所引起的全国范围的回应中突显出来。蔡氏提出的观点其实并不新颖:孩子对自己的未来没有足够的责任心去做出决定, 好的父母必须坚定和自信,孩子则必须刻苦努力,即使牺牲乐趣。类似主题的书籍早已数以百计。之所以引起大争议就是因为她的书作描写的是亚裔孩子。对这本书 的积极回应者宣称,非亚裔父母应该采用蔡氏的建议,而负面评论则谴责说,蔡氏如此对待自己的孩子肯定会带来的想象中的伤害。白人父母的直觉与技巧可以使他 们能策略性地实施蔡式家教。而对于亚裔父母,由于不具有美国式的情感与不善言辞,这么做当然就属于太过分了。

要 孩子注重家庭和勤奋刻苦并不是亚洲文化所独有。 在所有种族,孩子的学业成就都与父母的合法身份,父母的社会经济阶层,以及家长受教育程度密切相关 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3442927/)。 无论什么种族,父母较高的教育水平,稳定的社会经济状态,和(如果是移民)所具有合法身份全部都对应着孩子更高的成就。 因此,亚裔孩子较高的学业成就所反映的其实是美国移民政策偏差指导下筛选的结果,因为只有程度较高的亚洲人才被允许移民美国。程度较高家庭的孩子比来自贫 困家庭的孩子在学业上表现更好,这是美国学校制度和美国人民所受待遇的黑色印记,并非本文所要讨论的。但是,非要说亚裔儿童在学校表现较好是因为种族或文 化背景其实等于是在接受社会可以按种族划分阶层的理念。这是种族歧视的源头。 

确 实,亚裔美国孩子自杀意念和遭受抑郁症的比率更高。 也许这与亚洲人群耻于讨论精神疾病有关。然而,即使是针对其他有色人群社区最初级的研究也明确显示,耻于讨论自杀并非独一无二的亚裔特征。 也许亚洲文化中存在着某种无法言表的内在品质。 然而,比较的结果表明,美国亚裔的大学自杀率与亚洲国家的比率相当,也许更高。 也就是说,在“亚洲文化”最为集中的亚洲国家,自杀并不明显更高。因此,亚洲文化本身并不是某种会摧毁精神的特殊力量。

对 有关亚洲特征有害的反复宣传阻碍着移民父母们对这个国家产生归属感,并加大了亚裔美国人放在快乐与“是亚洲人”之间的间隔距离。 一股脑把环境带给我们的伤害归咎于我们的父母时,不但解决不了孩子的问题,而且还加深了孩子与父母之间的代沟。 在整个人口层面上,这样的思路使“亚裔特色”变成一个问题,破坏了两代人之间凝聚的任何可能性。 最终的结果是我们无法形成自我定位。 在一个认为我们毫无价值的国家里,维护我们的种族自我就像在雷雨中试图划火柴。 把我们的父母和我们文化遗产看作造成我们不被尊重的原因,只会让事情变得更糟。

必 须抛弃把亚裔家庭和亚洲特色对亚裔美国人具有独特伤害的观念。 如果我们不去研究这个国家对我们的偏见,而放任我们与自己的父母发生冲突,那么我们作为一个群体就将永远无法愈合和兴旺。研究结果表明,强烈的种族自尊, 与本族裔保持紧密联系,以及加强对社会体制中的压迫现象的理解会促进正面的自尊,并可以减小其他有色族裔社区中的抑郁症风险。 虽然对我们来说也是一样,我们仍然必须为之努力。

如 果责备,我们的靶子应该放在所谓“模范少数族裔”,“永远变不了的外国人”,以及“东方人预制形象”等等的标签上面。虽然貌似标榜,却正是这些标签形象构 成了对我们的压迫。 尽管我们都非常熟悉这些比喻,但我们却并没有意识到它们其实在伤害着我们的福祉。 社会中普遍存在的对亚洲家庭失真的看法,各种精神健康资源得不到亚裔客户的信任,根源皆源于此。

心 理治疗师和校园顾问们将亚裔美国人的遭遇仅仅视为家庭压力的结果,他们这样看实际上是将亚裔家庭生活方式视为不自然,不人道。 他们对待亚裔心理问题从来不考虑种族问题带来的压力,因为他们仍然坚持认为亚洲人不可能受到种族歧视,那是一个早就过时的观念。难怪去看心理治疗师的亚裔 美国人回来随诊的几率基本等于零。 在一定程度上,我们其实都明白,不断批评自己的家庭既不能帮助我们了解自己,也不能为我们的问题提供切实可行的解决方案。

虽 然对能解决亚裔问题的专业人才的需求非常之大,但类似的专业培训都缺乏针对性。 基于高压锅模型之上,有什么样的培训能让咨询师在亚洲社区内找到问题的根源呢?我唯一一次到我们大学的精神卫生服务部门征求咨询时,一位白人女士向我保 证,她见过许多具有“类似问题”的亚裔学生,并鼓励我在与我父母的关系中“更加开放”。 咨询之后我仍然糊涂,不知道我究竟应该怎么做。 虽然我觉得美国大多数白人精神卫生人员不可能真正理解,并不具有能力来讨论有关种族和精神疾病的相关问题,但是有培训总比没有好。心理服务人员队伍里的日 益增加的种族多样化也使我对服务终将得到改善抱有希望。

我 不想再听所谓亚裔“文化传统”通过某种机制导致自杀的论调。我不想再打开下一封令人心碎的电邮,几乎肯定牺牲者名字拼法会像我自己的一样。我不想再去想象 又一位绝望的母亲还要再承受一层“外国负罪感”的折磨。白人专家用自己的理论来解释有关我们家庭模式的理论时那种自我感觉优越的腔调让我愤怒;  我听够了年复一年各种新闻报道与分析文章,这些东西永远对我们亚裔人得出一成不变的,令人厌倦的结论。我更愿意相信我自己的孩子总有一天会为自己的亚裔身 份感到自豪,不会因为我在街上跟朋友讲母语而恨不得躲起来。在一个人民受到爱护的国度里,我们遭受的伤口,我们伤害自己父母的言辞根本不应该存在,但必须 由我们自己去修复之。

在 我们族裔中消除自我仇恨的运动已经开始认真推动。但是,在强迫我们抛弃对自己家庭的爱的美国目前环境里,如果我们不能热爱自己的家庭,我们就不可能做到爱 自己。我们从小就习惯性的被灌输了反亚裔的观点,断然消除并不容易。但是,要想愈合,我们就必须消除之。我们的生存有赖于此。





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