Latina teens have the highest suicide attempt rates throughout the country. In New York, where it’s the second-leading cause of death for young Latinas, the epidemic is pronounced. To help combat self-violence in the community, an organization aimed at preventing suicide among young Latinas is opening its doors in Manhattan.
Life is Precious, a program created by the citywide Latino health initiative Comunilife, is a space offering culturally and linguistically appropriate services for Latina teens who are living with depression and/or have seriously considered or attempted suicide as well as their families. The group, which is open to Latina teens between the ages of 12 and 18 years old, provides non-clinical activities that tackle risk factors that result in suicide ideation, including educational support, creative art therapies, wellness activities and family services.
The program, created in 2008, serves more than 120 teens and their families annually through centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. But on Thursday, they expanded their efforts by opening a facility in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, a largely Dominican neighborhood.
“The Latina teenage suicide attempt epidemic continues to escalate nationwide,” Dr. Rosa M. Gil, the founder of Life is Precious and president and CEO of Comunilife, told NBC News. “Our new center in Washington Heights will further enable us to strengthen our work and outreach to save lives by providing the teens and their families with the tools they need to overcome suicide ideation and high-risk behavior.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of seven teenage Latinas across the country has attempted suicide, a rate higher than any other teenage ethnic group. In New York City, 40 percent of Latina teens said they feel sad or helpless, 19 percent reported seriously considering suicide and 10 percent said they have attempted suicide, as reported by a 2018 Youth High Risk Behavior Report from the CDC.
“The Latina adolescent suicide crisis that is impacting New York and the entire nation, calls for bold, innovative and effective initiatives and resources to save lives,” Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who serves District 10, which includes Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill, said in a statement.
The center, located at 2500 Amsterdam Avenue, will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.