New York Official Says Latina Suicide Rates Reach Epidemic Level


I was in a bad place, after I was raped at 13 years old. Luckily, I told a police officer,” a teenager, who’s now 19, recalled to PIX11. The teen who spoke attended a summit in New York City that focused on the growing rate of Latina suicides.

This is an epidemic. We are focused on prevention,” Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, David Hansell, said at the summit.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a survey in 2015 on youth high-risk behavior, which reported that 15 percent of Latina adolescents in the U.S. have attempted suicide. That number is much higher when compared to 9.8 percent and 10.2 percent for white and black female teens, respectively. Furthermore, almost 26 percent of Latina teens considered suicide.

Overall, however, in the U.S., “suicide rates have increased in nearly every state over the past two decades, and half of the states have seen suicide rates go up more than 30 percent,” according to a new report by the CDC.

“Suicide in this country really is a problem that is impacted by so many factors. It’s not just a mental health concern,” Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC and the lead author of the new study, told NPR. “There are many different circumstances and factors that contribute to suicide. And so that’s one of the things that this study really shows us. It points to the need for a comprehensive approach to prevention.”

“This is a very clear, but very overlooked trend,” Dr. Luis Zayas  dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin told Univision in 2016. Zayas is considered to be a top researcher studying Latina teens and suicide rates.

Hansell attributes sexual abuse, neglect, drug abuse, bullying, and fears about immigration as contributing factors to their inclination toward suicide.

“Seven- and 8-year-olds come to the clinic. We ask them what happened and they say they are afraid of going home and mom was taken by the police,” Dr. Rosa Gilis, president of Communilife, a nonprofit group that runs a Latina teenage suicide prevention program in New York City, told PIX11.

Getting help:

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) . It is a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within your state.

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