Suicide rate among Latina teenagers an ‘epidemic,’ ACS Commissioner says

THE BRONX — A 19-year-old Bronx teen says it's tough enough to be a teenager, but after a childhood trauma, she thought about killing herself.

“I was in a bad place, after I was raped at 13 years old. Luckily, I told a police officer,” said the teenager, who did not want to give us her name.

The Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, David Hansell, attended a special summit of moms, social workers, city, and state leaders in Midtown, where suicide rates among Latina teenagers was the focus.

“This is an epidemic. We are focused on prevention,” Hansell said.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey, there are 312,000 Hispanic girls (17 and under) living in New York City and that population continues to grow.

Dr. Rosa Gilis is the president of Communilife, a nonprofit group that runs an initiative called "Life is Precious," the first Latina teenage suicide prevention program in NYC.

"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,” Gilis said.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said in 2015 that in New York City, 18.5 percent of Latinas have thought about suicide and 13.2 percent tried to kill themselves. That’s the highest percentage of any other ethnicity.

Hansell said sexual abuse, neglect, drug abuse, bullying, and fears about immigration are all contributing factors.

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Resources: 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.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are often exhibited in many ways. Warning signs for suicide can include, but are not limited to, talking about wanting to die; conveying feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or being a burden; and displaying extreme moods.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advises that you do not leave the person alone, call a prevention hotline, and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

For more information on suicide prevention, including additional resources and warning signs, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.”