Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Researching Latinas in Crisis

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Researching Latinas in Crisis

Article excerpt

When Dr. Luis H. Zayas was a clinician at a New York City hospital during the 1980s, he was stunned by how many teenaged Hispanic girls attempted suicide. As a native Puerto Rican, he was deeply bothered by the phenomenon, and the academic in him sought to understand its causes and find a solution.

"When you have one in five girls attempting suicide, you've got to worry," says Zayas, who is now a professor of social work and psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. "Imagine if we had one in five with tuberculosis. You'd worry. So it constitutes a public health issue, because an attempt often leads to a second attempt."

Zayas is partnering with mental health agencies and hospitals in New York City to study the causes of suicide attempts among Hispanic girls. At 20 percent, the rate is the highest among all ethnicities, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Hispanics born in the United States to immigrant parents are the most likely to attempt suicide. …

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