Alarming Rise of Teenage Suicide Concerns Mental Health Chair

Assembly Ortiz urges action to stop this trend
February 4, 2011
Albany – Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (51st AD, Brooklyn) is extremely saddened to hear news of the recent suicide of UAlbany freshman, Jacqueline Imbro and sends his deepest condolences to Imbro’s family and friends.

As Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, Ortiz feels that this incident is a tragic example of a much bigger issue.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis,” Ortiz states. “We must recognize this crisis so we can work to eliminate the stigma that surrounds the mental health issues affecting ourselves, our peers, and our neighbors. Only then will incidents like this decrease.”

The growing report of depression and suicides among college students has been a focal point for the Assemblyman since his appointment to the Mental Health Committee. A recent study conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at UCLA found that “First-year college students' self-ratings of their emotional health dropped to record low levels in 2010.” The study cites that “only 51.9 percent of students reported that their emotional health was in the highest 10 percent or above average,” and that “female students were far less likely to report high levels of emotional health than male students.” Because of this growing trend, Assemblyman Ortiz feels that understanding symptoms of depression and knowing how to seek help, is critical.

On January 31, 2011, Assemblyman Ortiz invited members from the mental health community, including representatives from the University at Albany’s counseling center, to discuss the importance of accessing mental health services throughout New York State. Conclusions from the roundtable included the need for additional training for healthcare workers and educators to detect signs of mental illness in adolescences and teenagers so that services can be continued into adulthood. Additionally, discussion focused on the need to educate the general public. Peers, coworkers, family members, and roommates are usually the first point of contact when individuals reach out for help or question where to go for services. It is crucial that the general public is aware of symptoms of varying mental illnesses and is informed on where to direct someone in need of services.

The New York State Suicide Prevention Resource Center web page www.sprc.org, provides information that includes:
  • Contact information
  • Recent developments
  • State events
  • State and local prevention resources

If you or someone yow know is in suicidal crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

On Monday, February 7th, Families Together in New York State and the NYS Coalition for Children’s Mental Health Services will sponsor a Roundtable Discussion at the Crowne Plaza in Albany at 10:30 am on the topic of teenage suicide. Assemblyman Ortiz and other members of the Legislature will participate in this event.