Comunilife’s Life is Precious™ (LIP) program provides culturally and linguistically appropriate services for Latina teens, who are living with depression and/or have seriously consider or attempted suicide, and their families. With program sites in the Bronx (2008), Brooklyn (2009) and Queens (2015), LIP provides non-clinical activities that directly related to the risk factors that result in suicide ideation. To be eligible for LIP, a Latina teen must be between 12 and 18 years of age, be diagnosed with depression or living with a mental illness or have seriously considered or attempted suicide, be enrolled in school and have parental permission.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens in New York State and Latina adolescents have alarmingly high rates of seriously considering or attempting suicide, as compared to their peers. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth High Risk Behavior Survey, in 2017, 15.1% of Latina adolescents in the US tried to take their own lives one or more times. In New York City, the number for the same group was 13.2%; in Brooklyn 13.4%, Bronx 13.0%, Manhattan 10.1%, Queens 16.4% and Staten Island 8.75%. Latina teens attempt suicide at rates far greater than their non-Hispanic counterparts in New York City (13.1% vs. 9.3%). See full 2017 statistics and comparison with 2015 survey.
LIP provides educational support, creative art therapies, wellness activities and concrete family services to more than 120 teens and their families annually. Most come from low-income families and 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.
In 2012, Comunilife began working with Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute to evaluate LIP’s outcomes. Preliminary data shows that for every month a teen is enrolled in Life is Precious their level of suicide ideation and depression works. Anecdotally, we know that LIP works. The teens are improving academically, have better relationships with their families and have the inner resources to expression their emotions. Most importantly, we know that of the more than 200 Latina adolescents who have participated in Life is Precious, not one has completed suicide.