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February 16th, 2011

Roundtable seeks to fight high Latina suicide numbers

Albany - Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, Chair of the New York State Assembly Mental Health Committee, recently joined Families Together in New York State and the NYS Coalition for Children’s Mental Health Services at their Roundtable Discussion on the alarming trend of suicide attempts among Hispanic females.

Sadly, young Hispanic women are more likely to commit suicide than their non-Hispanic peers. Guests of the roundtable shared their knowledge and experiences on this subject, and will now begin to work together to combat suicide in young Hispanic females.

"The reasons for this epidemic are complex. The cultural challenges of girls who are born here when their mothers come from other countries present one aspect. Yet the reality of poverty, inadequate housing and uncertain employment opportunities can add to the adolescents’ depression," stated Assemblyman Ortiz.

"Domestic violence is also a part of this tragic equation," said Dr. Rosa Gil, CEO of Communilife. "Many Latina girls are either victims themselves or have been exposed to domestic violence in their families." In an effort to make a difference, Dr. Gil has founded an innovative, family-centered, Hispanic culturally-appropriate mental health and youth development program called, Life is Precious.

The Adverse Childhood Experience study (ACES) by Kaiser Permanente identifies risks for children and youth growing up experiencing physical abuse, alcohol abuse, crime and/or violence, emotional abuse, incarceration or removal of a parent, or the presence of someone who is depressed or suicidal.

"Families and communities need to come together to battle this alarming trend. We must be better prepared to respond to young women in crisis. I am hopeful that we can work together to provide supports in the community and at home so that our young daughters, nieces, granddaughters, etc. will not inflict this violence upon themselves," said Ortiz.

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