Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults in Colorado, according to the 2014-2015 report from the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention. Latina teens have an alarmingly high rate of suicide attempts. Now one group is trying to change that with the help of adult mentors and art. The program is run by the Mental Health Center of Denver. It is called Voz y Corazon, which means voice and heart.
“We’re trying to help our young people feel like they can express both what’s going on with them, but also what’s in their heart,” said Michelle Tijerina, Program Coordinator of Voz y Corazon. It’s an effort to open communication and change the stigma of mental illness especially for Latinas. The program was started 13 years ago and was designed by teens for teens. “Latina youth, specifically female, are at the highest risk for actually attempting suicide,” said Tijerina.
So a group of young Latinas joined Denver community leaders. They came up with the suicide prevention program that includes a weekly support group, mentors and art for at risk adolescents to express themselves. The goals of the program are:
Education and Awareness
- Identifying and developing sources of strength in youth
- Teaching youth how to intervene appropriately with their friends and family members when there is a concern about possible suicide
Support and Referral
- Increase access to mentors and other adults who become positive role models, listen with care, offer meaningful support, and refer to formal mental health services when needed
- Create opportunities for artistic expression and healing through the arts
- Increase access to low cost and culturally responsive mental health services for youth and their families
Population of focus: Latina teens
Links to resource:
- Voz y Corazon website
- Watch the video about Voz y Corazon
- News article about Voz y Corazon on CBSLocal.com
Organization: Mental Health Center of Denver