Latina adolescents have alarmingly high rates of suicide ideation and attempt. According to the 2011 U.S. Center for Disease Control’s Youth High Risk Behavior Survey in the U.S., 13.5% of Latina adolescents tried to take their own lives one or more times. In New York City, the number for the same group was 11.3%; in Brooklyn 11.6%; in Staten Island 9.3%; Bronx 13%; Queens 7%; and Manhattan 13.3%. Even more alarming is the fact that the rate in Brooklyn doubled between 2009 and 2007. Latina teens attempt suicide at rates far greater than their non-Hispanic counterparts – more than twice the rate of white youth in New York City (11.3% vs. 5.3%).
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 attempted suicide and their families. Today, 76 teens from Brooklyn and the Bronx participate in LIP. All 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 resistance and provide the skills to succeed.
To meet the cultural and linguistic needs of the teens and their families, all program activities are available in English and Spanish. In addition, Comunilife educates the community on Latino Adolescent Suicide and, in 2010, initiated a public service campaign designed to bring attention to the epidemic.