|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2008
Woodhull Medical Center Launches
Latina Adolescent Suicide Prevention Campaign
Brooklyn, NY, November 20, 2008 - Woodhull Medical Center announced a Latina Adolescent Suicide Prevention Campaign this morning at Progress High School in Brooklyn's Williamsburg-Bushwick neighborhood. Two stars of the cast of the Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights”, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Janet Dacal, were on hand for the launch of the public awareness campaign that encourages young Latinas struggling with suicidal thoughts to seek appropriate help from suicide prevention sources in the community including those at Woodhull Medical Center.
In the United States, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years of age. Research shows that Latina adolescents have the highest rates of suicide attempts among any adolescent group in the United States. According to one report, 21 percent of Hispanic girls between the ages of 14 and 17 had attempted suicide compared to 10.8 percent of African American girls and 10.4 percent of non-Hispanic White girls of the same age. Further, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control, Latina adolescents were more likely to attempt suicide (14.9%) and those whose suicide attempts required medical intervention were more likely to occur among Latina adolescents (3.7%) than any other racial/ethnic group, male or female (MMWR, June, 2006).
“It is important for Latina teens to know that they are not alone if they have a problem and there is help available if they need it, said Iris Jiménez-Hernández, Senior Vice President, Woodhull North Brooklyn Health Network. “Awareness is the first step to resolving a problem and our belief is that this campaign will raise awareness about the risks of suicide among our Latina youth and their families, and help to save many lives.”
William Jusino, Principal, Progress High School, said, “Woodhull Medical Center has served as a true partner with Progress High School for the past 10 years. We are grateful that Woodhull has brought this important suicide prevention program to our students, and are very proud of our students' involvement in the development of the messages that will now be disseminated within our community.”
As part of this important campaign, Mr. Miranda and Ms. Dacal volunteered their time to write and record a special public service announcement to air on local radio stations.
“I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with Woodhull Medical Center on this important project targeting young Latinas. Like many people, I was stunned to learn about the high number of young Latinas who either consider, attempt, or succeed in taking their own lives,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda, of the Tony-Award Winning Musical “In The Heights.” “Programs like the one that Woodhull Medical Center is launching today are important to our community and could be a model for use in other communities throughout New York City. I'm happy to lend a hand.”
Janet Dacal, of the Tony-Award Winning Musical “In The Heights” added, “The pressures that young people face today can often seem overwhelming. For many young Latinas those pressures are made worse by often feeling disconnected from their communities or not speaking English well enough to ask for and receive help. I am proud to join Woodhull Medical Center today in launching this important campaign to raise awareness that there are people and organizations that can help young Latinas in crisis.”
One of the unique aspects of this program is the close involvement of students like Lizbeth Ushina. “Latina teenagers often get depressed and suicidal over family issues,” said Ms. Ushina. "The Woodhull program will go a long way to help us deal with this crisis.”
This multi-media awareness and education campaign was developed by Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center and was made possible through a grant awarded by the New York State Office of Mental Health.
“Every suicide is a terrible tragedy, and I enthusiastically support Woodhull Medical Center's efforts to prevent suicide - especially within this particular community,” said Michael F. Hogan, PhD, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health. “Research over the past decade has demonstrated that approximately one-third of adolescent Latinas seriously contemplate suicide...a very high rate compared to other young people and the overall population. This awareness and education campaign is a perfect example of the concerted effort we must make to reduce the risk of suicide in New York State.”
The campaign is primarily designed to reach Latina adolescents, ages 13-17, and will include print ads, flyers, posters, and radio public service announcements that have been created by the MirRam Group, is a Latino-owned advertising agency with experience in creating campaigns to reach the Hispanic community. The messages were developed with input from students, community partners and the staff of the Department of Psychiatry at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center.
Other parts of the campaign will include the creation of a curriculum to use with students in Progress High School and other schools in the area. According to Dr. Leonel Urcuyo, this program is much needed in the community and highlights an issue that is very familiar to the mental health staff at Woodhull. “I and my staff have seen the devastating effects of suicide attempts by young Latina women, who did not know how to get help for their problems,” said Dr. Urcuyo. “We believe this program will show young Latinas how and where to get the assistance they need in times of crisis.”
The campaign will be rolled out in phases over the next several months and will include outreach to families “While young Latinas are in the front lines of this increasing problem, families are their first line of support,” added Ms. Hernandez.
Woodhull Medical Center is a 401-bed acute care hospital in Brooklyn, serving the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Bushwick, Greenpoint, Fort Greene, and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Woodhull serves as the anchor for the North Brooklyn healthcare network, encompassing 15 community-based health centers, and is a member of The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country. Woodhull also is affiliated with the New York University School of Medicine.