Alarming Suicide Rates Impacting Latino Youth - NBC News Featuring CII

January 31, 2024
Hyesun Ahn

NBC News recently published an article reporting on the increase in youth suicide rates, featuring insights by Dr. Diane Elias, Vice President of Behavioral Health at Children’s Institute (CII). While the findings may not be surprising, especially to those familiar with recent mental and behavioral health trends, it serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of understanding and bringing awareness to this complex youth mental health crisis.

The rising rates of youth suicide and suicidal ideation can be seen locally in Los Angeles but also nationally, affecting rural, suburban, and urban areas, alike. What is interesting about the statistic is that not all groups are affected equally. According to NBC News, the suicide rate for Hispanic people in the United States has increased significantly over the past decade. Even elementary school-aged Hispanic children have tried to harm themselves or expressed suicidal thoughts.

The statistics show that the rise in youth suicide has been more pronounced in communities of color, including Latino communities, where there’s been a staggering 92.3% increase in suicide among Hispanic children 12 and younger from 2010 to 2019. There is a significant increase in emergency room visits and hospitalizations among young people for risky behavior and suicidal thoughts. Children as young as eight have required hospitalization for attempting to harm themselves, said Dr. Elias.

What makes this issue even more complex is that often, there are multiple layers and contributing factors and no one-size-fits-all solution. Issues including anxiety, a sense of uncertainty, a lack of access to mental health resources, and underlying mental health issues can exacerbate the problem but there are other factors that are unique to certain ethnic and racial groups that act as obstacles including, but not limited to, cultural and language barriers, stigma surrounding mental health, and even societal and economic pressures attributed to one’s residency status. The article states that, about one in five Spanish-language calls ended with the scheduler hanging up or informing the caller that no one was available to assist in Spanish, further proving how mental health care is often difficult to access. It’s critical to note these cultural and language factors in providing the right access to care.

Children’s Institute is keenly aware of and considers these factors when developing specialized approaches to treatment. According to Dr. Elias, Children’s Institute’s approach includes the following methods & services:

  • Trauma-Informed Care: addresses underlying issues and appropriately responds to the impact of trauma on mental health.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): identifies and focuses on building coping skills and resilience.
  • Family Therapy: strengthens family support systems and communication within the family structure.
  • Crisis Intervention: provides immediate support and develops safety plans catered to the individual’s needs.
  • Collaborative Care: coordinates efforts with schools, other healthcare professionals, and community services for comprehensive care.
  • Holistic Approach: explores creative therapies, mindfulness, and self-care practices.
  • Culturally Competent Services: aligns with cultural sensitivities and beliefs held within different groups.

Additionally, Children’s Institute aims to support families and youth in reducing the risk of suicidal ideation by providing comprehensive mental health services. Individuals seeking help or those looking to support someone in need can benefit from Children’s Institute’s diverse and personalized approach to mental health and well-being. To start the process, you can call 213-260-7600.

It is critical to approach any warning sign seriously and with compassion. If you or someone you know is experiencing these signs, seek help immediately. Reach out to mental health professionals for support and guidance and if there is an immediate risk of harm, call emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

If you are someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideation, it’s crucial to seek immediate help.

Steps to Reduce the Risk of Suicidal Ideations and Suicide for Families and Youth:

Open Communication:

  1. Encourage open and honest communication within the family.
  2. Create a safe space for youth to express their feelings without judgment.

Establish Support Networks:

  1. Build strong support networks involving family, friends, and community.
  2. Foster connections that provide emotional support during difficult times.

Encourage Professional Help:

  1. Promote the importance of seeking professional help including counseling/therapeutic services.
  2. Find mental health professionals and organizations that can provide support.

Identify Warning Signs:

  1. Changes in behavior such as sudden withdrawal from friends, family, or activities previously enjoyed.
  2. Communicating a sense of hopelessness
  3. Engaging in reckless or impulsive behaviors without regard for consequences
  4. Avoiding social interactions and isolation
  5. Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or sudden unexplained mood swings

Additional Resources and Other Steps to Take:

Suicide Prevention | CDC

Suicide Prevention: 12 Things Parents Can Do

Rising Latino Suicide Rates Worry Community Leaders | NBC News

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) for free and confidential support 24/7. This Lifeline provides crisis intervention and emotional support for people in distress or for those around them.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988 if you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis. Help is available.

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 in the United States to connect with a trained crisis counselor. This service is available 24/7 and provides support via text message.

Emergency Services: If the situation is urgent or life-threatening, call emergency services (911 in the United States) immediately.