(New York, NY) Today, U.S. Senator Gillibrand, U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and Comunilife’s Life is Precious Program™ (LIP) hosted an expert panel and community discussion to raise awareness of the suicide epidemic for Latina teens, highlight early intervention measures, assess current federal response and promote community based, culturally sensitive solutions.
The elected officials were joined by Comunilife President and CEO Dr. Rosa Gil, Jackie Cornell-Bechelli (Regional Director, Office of the Secretary, Region II, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), Jennifer Humensky, Ph.D. (Columbia University, Psychiatric Institute, Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence), Yolanda Alicea-Winn (Vice President Puerto Rican Family Institute), Dr. Leonel Urcuyo (Director, Dept. of Psychiatry, Woodhull Hospital) Erin Mercado (LIP Program Graduate), Horlanda Contreras (Program Parent), parents, teachers, counselors, community leaders, volunteers and supporters.
“Too many of our young Latinas across the county are contemplating and attempting suicide,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “Alarmingly, this number has nearly doubled in the last two years in some communities – with attempts increasing in Brooklyn and Queens. This roundtable gives our young Latina’s a voice and lets them know that they do not have to suffer in silence because they have dedicated advocates fighting for them right here in New York and in Washington, D.C. I look forward to taking the information and ideas generated here today to Washington. All of us must work together to end this silent health epidemic affecting Latina girls.”
“Programs like Life is Precious literally save lives in our community by reducing suicide among Latinas. This discussion will raise awareness and help expand Life is Precious’ successes to reach more young Hispanic women,” Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) said.
“Today’s community discussion is critical in raising awareness of a growing epidemic among Latina teens in our city,”Dr. Rosa Gil, President and CEO of Comunilife said. “The statistics have never been more staggering and the time has never been more pertinent to act. In Brooklyn and Staten Island, nearly a quarter of the Latina teen population contemplates suicide and they’ve experienced a 5% growth in attempts over the last two years. In Queens, the number seriously considering and attempting suicidehas nearly doubled in the last two years. Our girls need help, and today’s panel and discussion is an important step for our community.”
In June, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their 2013 Youth High Risk Behavior Survey, which revealed that nationally 26% of Latina teens contemplate suicide up 5% from 2011, sadly almost one out of every six attempts it.
About Life is Precious™:
In 2008, Comunilife created Life is Precious™ (LIP) to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate educational support, creative art therapy, and wellness activities to Latina teens, aged 12 to 17, who have contemplated or attempted suicide and their families. All participants come from low-income families and most live in New York City’s poorest communities. LIP’s goal is to eliminate suicide by Latina adolescents by giving them tools that build their confidence and provide the skills to succeed.
Founded in 1989, Comunilife’s mission is to improve the quality of life and create a healthier tomorrow, for New Yorkers with special needs in the Hispanic and broader communities, by providing culturally competent health and human services and a continuum of affordable and supportive housing”. Each year, Comunilife meets the needs of more than 3,000 low-income and vulnerable New Yorkers. Roughly 90% of our clients fall below the federal poverty line; 90% are African-American or Latino; 50% have Spanish as their primary (or sole) language. All struggle with profound challenges, including chronic homelessness; HIV/AIDS and other major medical issues; serious and persistent mental illness; and substance abuse. Our President/CEO and Founder, Dr. Rosa Gil, is a nationally recognized expert in the development and delivery of culturally-competent behavioral health and human services. Dr Gil is the co-author of the Maria Paradox – the first authoritative book on self-esteem and Latina women; and is a speaker on the subjects of mental health, ethnicity, child welfare and gender.