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April 26, 2010

Velázquez Helps Prevent Latina Teen Suicides

Secures Funds for ‘Life is Precious’ Initiative

New York, NY –Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) presented Comunilife, Inc. with $167,000 in federal resources for a suicide prevention program for Latina teens and their families, Saturday.  The funds will support the Life Is Precious initiative, which arms Hispanic girls with the tools needed to manage stress and combat depression.  With suicide rates significantly higher among teenage Latinas than other ethnic groups, the Life Is Precious program is critical to making sure New York City youth live full, healthy lives. 

“Latina teens face a wide range of challenges in our society and, sadly, sometimes these pressures can be overwhelming,” said Rep. Velázquez.  “Far too many of our families have lost a child to suicide and, here, in New York City, these tragedies are even more common.”

A 2007 study found that one out of seven Latina high school students tries to end her life.  The Life is Precious program empowers at-risk Latinas from Bushwick and Williamsburg by helping them cope with stress and emotional challenges.  The project offers teens academic assistance, lets them explore their interests to develop skills and creativity, and supports increased family communication to solve stress and depression issues. After only one and a half years in operation, Life is Precious has already equipped nearly100 girls with the skills needed to prevent suicide.

“This is an innovative program that gives young Latinas a place to turn and helps address emotional challenges in a culturally relevant way,” Velázquez said.  “By empowering these young women to lead healthier, happier lives we can prepare a new generation of leaders and strengthen our community for the future.”

Comunilife, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 to expand access to government and social services for children, adolescents, adults, and families living with mental illness, addictive disorders, HIV/AIDS, and homelessness.  Serving 1,800 families in New York City, the organization provides culturally appropriate support to those in need of housing, health, behavioral health, rehabilitation, and domestic violence assistance.  Funding for the Life Is Precious project was allocated through the Omnibus Appropriations Act passed by Congress last year.

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For a picture of Saturday’s event, click here.