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Symposium Co-Hosted by Comunilife and EmblemHealth Tackles Dangerous Trend: 23% of All Adolescent Latinas in New York Contemplate Suicide

NEW YORK, NY (May 13, 2015) — On May 7, Comunilife and EmblemHealth teamed up to host a symposium focused on raising awareness of the issue of adolescent Latina suicide within the medical and behavioral health provider communities.

The symposium, titled “Life is Precious™: A Community Informed Program,” brought together a distinguished panel of mental health professionals and government officials to share tools with medical providers in order to help them recognize and treat Latina teens who are at higher risk for suicide.

According to 2013 US Centers for Disease Control statistics, Latina adolescents are at a significantly higher risk for considering or attempting suicide than their Asian, African American or Caucasian female peers in both New York City and nationwide. Since 2011, the CDC data also shows a dangerous trend of increasing numbers of Latina teens considering or attempting suicide.

“This symposium goes a long way toward creating awareness on the terrible epidemic of Latina adolescent suicide,” said Dr. Rosa M. Gil, DSW, President and CEO of Comunilife. “Our program is the only one of its kind that provides life-saving interventions to Latina teens between the ages of 12 and 17 years old, by using emotional and physical wellness, academic programs and creative arts activities. I am proud to have the support of EmblemHealth as we look to further our important work.”

Over the past seven years, Comunilife’s Life is Precious™ program has served more than 200 girls through its programming, and not one has completed suicide.

New York State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, (D) 34th Senate District, attended the symposium and voiced his support for the program. “I’m proud to have secured $500,000 in state funding to combat this critical mental health issue and help countless adolescents who suffer in silence each day,” said Senator Klein. “By providing our most vulnerable populations with the support, resources and tools they need to overcome depression and seek assistance, we are working to ensure positive outcomes for generations of New Yorkers and ultimately, saving lives.”

Panelist Russell C. Petrella, PhD, EmblemHealth Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning, stressed the importance of integrating physical and behavioral health services. “It is important that we ‘lean in’ and take action on issues like this that affect the community,” said Dr. Petrella. “Through the efforts of Life is Precious™ and our partnership with Comunilife, we can continue to strengthen coordination among medical professionals in order to better address, identify and communicate risk factors within the communities we serve.”

Other panelists included The Honorable Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, NYC Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services; Dr. Angela Diaz, Mount Sinai Hospital; Jennifer Humensky, PhD, Columbia University, Psychiatric Institute, New York State Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence; and Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan, New York State Commissioner, Office of Mental Health. The panel was moderated by Debralee Santos, Editor of The Manhattan Times and The Bronx Free Press.

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From left to right: Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan, New York State Commissioner, Office of Mental Health; Russell C. Petrella, PhD, Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning, EmblemHealth; Dr. Rosa M. Gil, DSW, President and CEO, Comunilife
Dr_Gil_on_panel
Panelist Dr. Rosa M. Gil, DSW, President and CEO, Comunilife, addresses the symposium attendees
EmblemHealth_Comunilife_Group_Shot
From left to right: David Mahder, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, EmblemHealth; Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan, New York State Commissioner, Office of Mental Health; Debralee Santos, Editor, The Manhattan Times and The Bronx Free Press; Dr. Angela Diaz, Director of Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, Mount Sinai Hospital; The Honorable Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services; Jennifer Humensky, PhD, Columbia University, Psychiatric Institute, New York State Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence; Dr. Rosa M. Gil, DSW, President and CEO, Comunilife; Russell C. Petrella, PhD, Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning

About EmblemHealth
EmblemHealth, Inc., through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP), provides quality health care coverage and administrative services to approximately 3.4 million people. Groups and individuals can choose from a variety of PPO, EPO and HMO plans, as well as coverage for prescription drugs and dental and vision care. EmblemHealth offers a choice of networks, including quality doctors and other health care professionals throughout the region, leading acute care hospitals across the tristate area, and physicians and hospitals across all 50 states. For more information, visit www.emblemhealth.com.

About Comunilife
Founded in 1989, Comunilife’s mission is to improve the quality of life and create a healthier tomorrow for New Yorkers with special needs in the Hispanic and broader communities, by providing culturally competent health and human services and a continuum of affordable and supportive housing. Each year, Comunilife provides services to more than 3,000 low-income and vulnerable New Yorkers. Roughly 90% of the clients fall below the federal poverty line; 90% are African-American or Latino; 50% have Spanish as their primary (or sole) language. All struggle with profound challenges, including chronic homelessness; HIV/AIDS and other major medical issues; serious and persistent mental illness; and substance abuse. For more information, visit www.comunilife.org, call Comunilife at (212) 219-1618 or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Comunilife or on Twitter at Comunilifeinc.

Media Contacts

EmblemHealth
Ed Skowronek
Sunshine Sachs
212-691-2800
emblemhealth@sunshinesachs.com

Comunilife
Illyse Kaplan
Director of Development and Communications
212-219-1618, ext, 6166
ikaplan@comunilife.org

 

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