Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The number of suicide attempts by Latina teenage girls has dropped slightly in New York City, according to recently released data by the Centers for Disease Control.
The number dipped from 14.7 percent in 2009 to 11.3 percent in 2011, the CDC’s Youth Behavior Survey found.
Suicide attempts for other ethnic groups, such as Black and Asian teens, went up slightly.
But advocates said Hispanic girls still consider suicide more than other ethnic groups.
Jaclyn Rios, 17, stood alongside fellow teens and elected officials at City Hall on Wednesday. The Brooklyn teen tearfully confessed that feelings of isolation were one of the main reasons she attempted suicide.
"When we want to talk we don't have that much confidence to talk to somebody...we always close down and there's nobody there to help us," she explained.
Queens Councilmember Julissa Ferreras added that other issues including having to act as translator or “go between” for their immigrant parents can be stressful. “In the Latino household, they’re put front and center,” Ferreras said. And helping to provide childcare for families that are struggling to get by can also be an issue.
“She always wore long shirts because she was often cold, so I didn’t notice she was harming herself,” Bronx parent Nivea Dones recalled. Her 17-year-old daughter has been hospitalized three times for attempted suicides over the past five years. “In our culture there are double standards,” Dones admitted. “The girl stays at home and the boy goes out and that’s not the case in America. Here, everybody goes out and experiments. Even though I think I’m open-minded she felt she was struggling on her own.”
Dones said her daughter has been receiving treatment from a program called Life is Precious, an organization that works to reduce Latina suicides.
Ferreras and others on the Council are working to help the non-profit receive $300,000 in funding from the city in the upcoming budget.