Senator Klein, Dr. Rosa Gil CEO of Comunilife, Jennifer Humensky PhD. Research Director at Columbia University, Parents and Bronx School Counselors Come Together for Guidance Counselor Roundtable Discussion on Latina Teen Suicide
(BRONX, NY)– Today, State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx) and Comunilife’s Life is Precious Program™ (LIP) hosted an expert panel and guidance counselor roundtable to raise awareness of the suicide epidemic for Latina teens, highlight early intervention measures, assess current state response and promote community-based, culturally sensitive solutions.
Senator Klein was joined by Comunilife President and CEO Dr. Rosa Gil, Jennifer Humensky PhD. NY Research Director of Center of Excellence in Cultural Competence at Columbia University, parents and Bronx school guidance counselors.
“One of the most important messages we can send to young people today, is that every life is precious,” said Senator Jeff Klein. “Comunilife’s LIP program works to ensure positive outcomes for generations of New Yorkers, providing vulnerable teen populations with invaluable resources to combat depression and most importantly, save lives. Today’s roundtable shows that when the community joins together, we can make real progress, affect positive change and help thousands of teens in need.”
“Today’s guidance counselor roundtable 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 the Bronx, one in seven Latina teens contemplates, and more than one in nine attempt, suicide. Our girls need help, and today’s panel and discussion is an important step. We appreciate Senator Klein’s support of our Life is Precious™ program and more importantly his support of the at-risk Latina teens in his district and throughout New York City.”
“The tragic epidemic of suicide amongst Latina adolescents is one that rarely receives the attention it deserves,” said Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda. “Dr. Rosa Gil and the Comunilife organization have dedicated themselves to helping to change this and to lessen the stigma amongst Latino families. This additional funding secured by Senator Klein will go a long way in ensuring that the work done by Comunilife is preserved and that a change in the perception of mental health in the Latino community is achieved.”
“The issue of teen suicide is a reoccurring issue in all communities. Unfortunately, when we review the data, we seen Latina teens are at a far greater risk than their non-Hispanic counterparts. This is truly alarming. This problem needs a collaborative effort to reduce these statistics. I commend New York State Independent Democratic Conference Leader, Senator Jeffrey Klein for his continuous efforts on advocating for program funding for the topics which affects the communities within our District. Although this is a very sensitive topic, this is something we cannot ignore. The Life is Precious™ program created by Comunilife will provide cultural and linguistic appropriate education support, creative therapy, and wellness activities to Latina teens,” stated Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, Chair for the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.
In 2014, Senator Klein provided $300,000 in state funding to expand the program in the Bronx and increase the number of at-risk teens receiving services. In June of that year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their 2013 Youth High Risk Behavior Survey, which revealed nationally 26% of Latina teens contemplate suicide, up 5% from 2011 and more than twice the rate of their non-Hispanic counterparts. What’s more, Latina teens represent nearly one out of every six suicide attempts in the U.S. Contributing factors include acculturation stress, economic status and developmental and social disparities.
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.