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Teen Suicides


The Independent reports in its November 19 News Briefs that two boys committed suicide in the past month: a 16-year-old on October 30, and a second boy on November 4 [“Health“]. In fact, since last spring, there have been four suicides committed by young Latino boys in Santa Barbara. Imagine if four white middle-class teenagers committed suicide within a short time frame in Santa Barbara. The amount of concern and calls for intervention and prevention would be overwhelming, and the vast resources of this community would be brought to bear to address the issue. In the current case, there is a small cadre of concerned community members, caseworkers, school staff, nonprofits, and parents who have been meeting to address this issue. However, the lack of newspaper coverage, silence of our city leaders, lack of resources, and overall lack of community concern is alarming. It’s time this community took a hard look at its priorities and prejudices. Every life, every child in this community deserves the same value and respect as every other. - Bonnie Beedles

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Had Independent executive editor Nick Welsh read the annual Report on Leading Causes of Premature Death in our county, issued by the Santa Barbara Public Health Department, his shock at learning the incidence of youth suicide would have come earlier [” Doggie See, Doggie Do“]. Items included in this report were the primary reason Public Health Department Directors Michele Mickiewicz and Scott McCann were interviewed on the Channel 17 television program Just Between Us! in May of this year. Four of the Top Ten causes of premature death in our county, i.e., death before age 75: (1) Liver disease or cirrhosis; (2) Vehicle accidents; (3) Drug overdose and (4) Suicide.-William Smithers

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