Life is Indeed Precious

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary One of the most serious social problems Latinos face today is the growing number of teenage Latino suicides or attempted suicides. The attempted suicide rate for teens is 7.8 percent. In fact, the attempted suicide rate for Latinas teens is higher—at 9.8 percent. And the problem is growing. Why is this terrible thing happening? There are a number of factors, First, many Latinas are immigrants who came to the United States when they were children. The language barrier, plus trying to deal with social and regional differences in the United States, has only contributed to many Latinas feeling isolated. School in too many ways adds to the problem. Many Latinas feel they are “unimportant” in a sea of other teens where they are inculcated with the idea they must succeed. With all of the social pressures on them, and plus the belief they are “not good enough,” some of them crack and feel life is no longer worth living.

Complicating the problem is the lack of programs, mental health facilities and awareness among teachers and school staff to the problem of Latina suicide and what to look for. Additionally, the language barrier is a problem. Many Latinas, especially immigrant Latinas, have problems expressing their frustrations, their sadness, and their feelings of isolation. Many Latino families do not talk about the dangers of suicide, nor of those in their families who may have attempted or actually did commit suicide. While the Latino drop-out rate from high school has been declining, the number of Latino suicides and attempted suicides has gone up. To deal with the problem of suicide among Latinas, a New York non-profit organization called CommuniLife has created the program Life is Precious. Life is Precious tries to help Latina teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 who have thought or attempted suicide.

Life is Precious provides culturally and linguistically appropriate educational support, creative art therapy, and wellness activities to teens who are at-risk. All program activities are in English and Spanish, and in 2010 CommuniLife initiated a campaign in New York City to provide public information on the epidemic of Latina teenage suicide and how to reach out and help those in need. There are other organizations throughout the United States trying to combat the epidemic of Latina suicides and how it impacts their families and friends. Saving one innocent life can do more than just saving a life—it can save whole families and whole communities that might otherwise be devastated by the needless loss of one precious person.

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