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Latino Teens Have Higher Tendency to Suffer From Depression

depressed man

Bill Sarno

Depression among teenagers is a problem  that impacts all segments of the population, but especially is a concern among Connecticut’s Latino community, whose young people manifest a greater tendency to consider and attempt suicide than the non-Hispanic members of their generation, according to state studies.
The findings, which emerged from the biennial youth risk behavior study that the state Department of Public Health (DPH) last conducted in 2013, not only validate the need to address issues such as a disproportionate rate of suicide attempts by Hispanic females, but also underscore the need for all parents, teachers and clinicians to be able to identify and treat teen depression.
On May 7, the public will have an opportunity to learn more about concerns such as teen suicide prevention, as well as to engage in a dialogue a panel of experts in adolescent behavioral health.
This forum, entitled “Uncovering Our Kids: Towards a Better Understand of Teen Mental Health,” is  being sponsored by the Connecticut Health I-Team and will run from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Lyceum Conference Center, 227 Lawrence St., Hartford.
The public is invited to “talk openly about teen mental health, learn from experts, and help Connecticut reduce the stigma of depression and mental illness,” said C-HIT co-founder and editor Lynne DeLucia.
Panelists will speak about ways to identify depression in youths and how to intervene if necessary, and will give an overview of Connecticut’s behavioral health landscape.
The importance and timing of this forum is heightened because state policymakers are debating ways to improve mental health services for youths, according to C-HIT, which has organized this event in collaboration with ConnectiCare and Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. is a media sponsor.
“With one in five young people suffering from behavioral health conditions, many families in Connecticut need help identifying disorders and seeking treatment. We need to work together to increase timely referrals, reduce barriers to treatment and get our young people the resources they need to lead productive lives,” said John Harper, vice president and chief medical officer, ConnectiCare.
Among the disturbing statistics for Latino parents to consider are that the DPH survey found that 15 cent of female Hispanic high school students indicated they had attempted suicide during the past 12 months, as compared to 5.8 percent of white female students. The incidence among male Hispanics students, 13.2 percent, was only marginally better.
In addition, among Hispanic youths, 17.7 percent said they had considered suicide in the previous 12 months, which is about 3 points higher than whites and African-American students, and slightly up from the 16.3 percent reported in 2005.
Nearly 24 percent of the Hispanic youths said they had hurt themselves, but not with fatal intent, versus 12.7 percent of blacks and 15.5 percent of whites. About 38.3 percent of Hispanic teens surveyed described themselves as overweight, which is about 10 points higher than reported by white and black youths.
The speakers at the C-HIT forum will include the following:
Dr. Harold (Hank) Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at the Institute of Living and vice president of behavioral health for Hartford HealthCare
Nancy von Euler of Fairfield, a parent advocate for suicide prevention whose 17-year-old daughter took her own life in 2009
Jeff Vanderploeg, vice president for mental health initiatives at the Child Health & Development Institute and an assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine
Kim Nelson, vice president of Children’s Outpatient and Community-Based Services at the Wheeler Clinic
Jill Holmes Brown, a social worker and director of East Hartford’s School-Based Health Center Program
In addition, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy also has been invited to participate.
The panel will be moderated by Christine Stuart, editor-in-chief of the online news organization
The panel program begins at 6 p.m. and will be preceded by a social hour with refreshments. Tickets are $10, with a portion of the proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Southern Connecticut chapter.
To register in advance, go to On-site parking is available at the Lyceum.
For more information on attending the forum or becoming a sponsor, please contact Lynne DeLucia at

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