KOPPELL SPEARHEADS DRIVE FOR COUNCIL FUNDING OF SUICIDE PREVENTION PROGRAM
Concerned about the increase in suicide, especially among young people, Council Member Oliver Koppell, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, is requesting that the City Council continue its funding for the community education program and the Citywide 24-hour Suicide Prevention Hotline operated by the Samaritans of NYC.
Koppell, is hosting a briefing for colleagues, in conjunction with Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee, and Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Chair, Committee on Women’s Issues, about the high rate of suicide particularly among New York City teen-agers and the need to support suicide prevention efforts. A recent CDC study found that 10% of NYC high school students reported suicide attempts, 50% of which required medical attention. This was particularly marked among young Latina girls, where suicide attempts greatly exceeded those of the general population.
Koppell has indicated that, in general, suicide is all too common, with twice as many Americans dying from suicide as from AIDS, and 40% more than from homicide. He has further said that the risk is particularly high in New York City where, because of its widely diverse population, there are a greater number of people in danger of suicide than anywhere in the world.
Koppell said, “I am distressed about the increase in suicide attempts, particularly among young people. In our efforts to prevent these tragedies, the Samaritans of NYC stand out as the only community-based organization devoted to suicide prevention. “
The organization operates the city’s only completely confidential 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, answering over 69,000 calls last year from those who were in distress, depressed and in crisis. Its suicide prevention public education program has trained over 30,000 health providers who supply education and technical support to Bronx, Queens and Manhattan public schools, as well as to government agencies and community-based organizations.
“The 24-hour Hot Line operated by the Samaritans of NYC with its over 100 caring volunteers, is in the forefront of our efforts to avert suicide attempts,” Koppell said. “In view of the increased suicide risk facing our young people, it is particularly important that the Council continue to provide funding for this vital resource, as well as for the organization’s public education program.