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Teenage Latinas’ Suicidal Behavior—a Crisis Going Largely Ignored

Posted on Aug 7, 2016

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For a number of reasons, including clashes between their parents’ adherence to traditional culture and the American way of life, Latinas top the list of teenagers who attempt to take their own lives. After a decade of inaction, it’s about time this crisis is addressed at the national level, writes Luis H. Zayas, dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

A youth survey recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that when it comes to rates of teenage suicide attempts, young Latinas continue to outpace girls and boys of other ethnic or racial groups in the U.S. ... When the CDC releases its survey every two years, there is some media attention. But within weeks, the story goes stale.

Nearly 10 years ago, news stories told of this mostly overlooked national phenomenon among a misunderstood and endangered group but one of the fastest-growing segments of the American population. ... In 2015, Latinas in high schools across the country had rates of suicide attempts of 15.1 percent compared with rates for African American and non-Hispanic white girls of 10.2 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively.

It will take will and resolve in Congress and state legislatures across the country, in the White House and the state house, to fund programs that will not just reduce suicide attempts but enhance youths’ development to make living, not death, a priority. .... And any campaign must pay attention to the family, a central part of Latino cultures and a mighty antidote to suicidal behavior. Research shows that improving parent-daughter communication can reduce the chance of an attempt by 50 percent.

We need more public health messaging on television and magazines on a consistent basis, and like any attack on a health problem, we need multipronged strategies and adequate funding to accomplish the goals.

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— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata


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