The "Back Me Up" Campaign Sheds Light On Rising Suicide Rates In Young Latinas

Maggie Burgos and Soraya Lopez are mother and daughter who share more than blood: they both battled depression, and in Burgos' case, made multiple suicide attempts. Now, the two helped launch the "Back Me Up" campaign, to raise awareness.

The article, originally published in the Rochester, NY-based Democrat and Chronicle, described the local organizations trying to combat what is quickly becoming a national problem:

Nationally, 14 percent, or one in every seven, Hispanic female high school students have attempted suicide, compared with 8 percent of their white and 10 percent of their black counterparts, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But even if percentage points should be lower for each category, Hispanics would still have a higher rate of suicide attempts than white and African-American students, leading many researchers to ask why. "I don't know exactly if anyone has figured out why it (suicide attempts) is higher for young Latinas," said Juan Pea, assistant professor at the Washington University in St. Louis George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

While this comparison leaves out Asian American women, another group that has historically struggled with high rates of suicide attempts, the logical question is why is this rate increasing among Latinas of all backgrounds? Researchers became alarmed when girls as young as 11 and 12 began showing up in hospitals, but answers remain frustratingly elusive. Research is still underway, and most studies point to things like peer pressure, and a disconnect between the daughter and the mother over acceptable behavior. Unfortunately, nothing stands out as a definite cause for the increase.

Sadder still, in tough financial times, many outreach programs are scaling back - or closing up shop entirely.

The Back Me Up campaign started in September 2008 with the goal of reaching out to both Latino youths and their parents in the Buffalo and Rochester area.

Youth Power attempted to extend the grant for another year.

But Orlando said that because of the state's budget problems and economy, such an extension was not possible.

(Image Credit: The Trevor Project, which does suicide outreach and prevention targeted toward LGBTQ teens)

Suicide Attempts By Young Latinas Cause Alarm [Democrat and National]