Let’s stop suicides where they are most common – before it's too late

Comunilife's Life is Precious program helps Latina teens at risk for committing suicide.
Comunilife's Life is Precious program helps Latina teens at risk for committing suicide.
Comunilife
Comunilife's Life is Precious program helps Latina teens at risk for committing suicide, necessitating new approaches to prevention.

Let’s stop suicides where they are most common – before it's too late

Comunilife's Life is Precious program prevents suicides among Latina teens
June 27, 2018

Now more than ever, we need increased investments in programs like Comunilife's Life is Precious which is tackling suicide ideation where it is most deeply entrenched.

Recent high-profile suicides and the concerning statistics released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) this month, are leading to a long overdue public conversation about the ongoing epidemic of suicides confronting the nation.

In New York’s Hispanic community, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Latina teens. Comunilife’s Life is Precious program is a suicide prevention program held after-school and during weekends that is designed specifically for at-risk Latina teens.

With centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, Life is Precious provides teens and their families with the tools they need to overcome suicide ideation and high-risk behavior. Comunilife is working with researchers from Columbia University Medical Center’s New York State Psychiatric Institute to develop LIP as an evidence-based model of care.

Early data shows that LIP works. For every month a Latina teen participates, their level of suicide ideation and depression decreases. In addition, the teens are staying in and graduating from high school, reporting better communication with their families and developing greater self-esteem. Most importantly, in the ten years that Comunilife has been providing suicide prevention services, not one vulnerable teen has completed suicide.

LIP is a long-term solution. It is a pioneering effort that is setting benchmarks for successful suicide prevention. It has the potential to be a model of care for high-risk Latina teens across our country.

We continue to raise awareness of suicide risk and the toll it is taking on our community to our elected and appointed officials, healthcare providers, families and other stakeholders. We have to continue because the funding and resources available for effective intervention and prevention programs remains inadequate for the scope of the epidemic.

We are extremely grateful for the support received from the city and from the state legislature but it is still challenging to meet the need and demand for services. Suicides have increased almost 30 percent nationwide since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This month the CDC also released updated statistics on adolescent suicidal behavior through the agency's Youth Risk Behavior Survey. And while we always remained optimistic, we knew that the numbers would prove what we've known all along: that the epidemic remains grave and Latina teenagers remain near the top of the high-suicide-risk populations.

Approximately 123 people die by suicide in the United States every day, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There are nearly 45,000 deaths by suicide across the nation each year and for every suicide completed, there are at least 25 suicide attempts, according to the organization.

These numbers are deeply concerning, and require bold action and resources.

The untimely deaths of fashion icon Kate Spade and internationally-renowned chef and journalist Anthony Bourdain are a grim reminder that suicide knows no economic or ethnic boundaries – and the trauma is comprehensive. There is the tragedy of precious lives ended too short and the pain and suffering of family and friends left behind.

We need resources and early interventions that can restore hope and save lives.

Comunilife’s Life is Precious program has proven that timely and effective intervention works, so let’s make sure that resources are in place for those in need.

Dr. Rosa Gil CEO of Comunilife
Rosa Gil
is founder and CEO of Comunilife.
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