The rate of teens committing suicide in Palo Alto, California has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct investigations.
The sunshiny city with clear blue skies and beautiful lawns seems to have the happiest residents. Nothing appears to cause major grievances, hence it is quite shocking to know that the place is baffled by teen suicide epidemic.
Suicide Rates In Palo Alto
From 2009 to 2010, Palo Alto witnessed six teens succumb to death due to suicide. Four more teens did the same between the short period of October 2014 to March 2015.
Some of these young people committed suicide on the tracks of Caltrain, which is a commuter train line near Henry M. Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School.
In an interview conducted during school year 2013 to 2014, 12 percent of students admitted that they have seriously considered killing themselves in the past year. In Henry M. Gunn High School alone, 42 students have been admitted in the hospital from the beginning of the school year through March – all due to major suicide ideation.
All in all, the combined suicide rates in the two Palo Alto high schools are four times higher than the average national rates.
Request For Help
The teen deaths in Palo Alto fall under what the CDC calls as "suicide cluster." The agency describes this as three or more suicides that happened within close vicinities and in short time intervals.
The 2009 to 2010 and 2014 to 2015 teen deaths in the city are considered suicide clusters.
"In response, the California Department of Public Health issued a formal request to the CDC for assistance, on behalf of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD)," the Epi-Aid on Youth Suicide in Santa Clara County reads.
The federal agency and the Substane Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have already sent a team to perform surveys and investigations in the area.
The community has also taken steps to address this growing concern. The Palo Alto Unified School District and the Santa Clara Health Department have arranged programs to protect teens against suicide using materials given by the CDC.
Denise Hermann, Henry M. Gunn High School's principal, says the school officials have started several programs to help students. One program involves teaching students some stress-busting techniques such as yoga and breathing exercises. Another effort entails fresh high school graduates to come back and share life after high school to current students. Lastly, there is a freshman-adult buddy program where young students and adults can meet throughout the school year and both can get one-on-one attention.
Suicide is not just a problem for middle and old-aged adults as young people are affected, too. For instance, teens taking in high doses of antidepressants tend to be more suicidal. Moreover, the CDC states that suicide is the third leading cause of death among youths aged 10 to 24. This translates to about 4,600 lost lives every year.
Photo : David Sawyer | Flickr