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COVID-19, lack of care fuel rising Hispanic suicide rate | Health

By February 1, 2024COVID-19

Mental illness can also be culturally taboo among many Black and Hispanic people. (Hispanics can be of any race or combination of races.)

“There is a belief that men shouldn’t seek help — they should solve their problems themselves,” said Francisco, 55, a member of the Dalton support group who himself attempted suicide as a teen. KFF Health News attended the session where he and others spoke, using only their first names for privacy reasons.

To address the mental health crisis, the federal government, in conjunction with states, introduced the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in 2022 for people to connect with a crisis counselor and other resources. In July, it added a 988 text and chat service in Spanish, but a spokesperson for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration acknowledged more work needs to be done to reach communities at risk.

Across the country, mental health professionals, researchers, and Hispanic leaders point to several ways to reduce suicide.

It’s crucial that more funding goes toward mental health generally, including prevention programs that recognize cultural, legal, and language needs, said Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor and researcher at New Mexico State University.

For now, some local leaders are filling gaps by doing community work, such as forming support groups for the Hispanic population.

Miguel Serricchio of Santa Clarita, California, facilitates bilingual support groups for people whose lives have been rocked by suicide. His son, Alex, battling anxiety, took his own life in 2016 after a breakup with his girlfriend.

“I wanted to get the word out,” Serricchio said.

Gruner, 64, who was born in Mexico City, hears from people in her weekly support group who have thought about suicide, have attempted it, or worry about their children doing the same.

During the meeting attended by KFF Health News, a woman named Angela said her three daughters had anxiety and depression. “One of them told me she is suffering because we are immigrants,” she said.

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