After disturbingly high rates, the CDC will be looking into Palo Alto teen suicides that have occurred at five times the national average. While it’s not normally a situation where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would investigate, the dire circumstances have called for federal action.
- Between 2009 and 2015, 10 teenagers in Palo Alto committed suicide
- That is 5 times the national average
- It’s extremely rare for just 2 teenage suicides to occur within 10 years in just one city
- For the next two weeks,
the CDC will be investigating the problem
Palo Alto, California, is famously known for being home of the wealthy, where the average income per household is over $121,000. That’s twice the median of the rest of the state. And yet, the rates of adolescent suicides have skyrocketed, which has prompted the need for a deeper investigation. The question is posed why these teenagers, who do not struggle with vital life necessities such as shelter and food, opt to taking their own lives.
While it’s true that there are problems that money can’t fix, suicides rates are far too immense for that simple fact to be offered as an explanation. Between 2009 and 2010, six teenagers in Palo Alto committed suicide, and between 2014 and 2015, another four claimed their own lives. These two “suicide clusters”, which means multiple suicides within a short amount of time, were five times the national average.
To put it into perspective, having two or more teenage suicides in the same city within 10 years is extremely rare. And yet, Palo Alto has seen to ten adolescents taking their own lives in just six years. According to Jorge Quintana from the Palo Alto Unified School District, this has called for the help of the CDC. They wish to learn and understand what they can do in the future to prevent this sort of tragedy.
For the next two weeks, officials will
be investigating the odd occurrences and why so many teenagers cannot be stopped from taking their own lives. Parents, teachers, friends, and loved ones are burying adolescents with very few explanations why. Such was the case of Cameron Lee, a bright and popular kid from Henry M. Gunn High School. In his suicide note, Lee explained that there was no one to blame, not his school, friends, or family. He got good grades and was loved by many, but he still felt like he had no future in the world. And so, he took his own life.
In 2015, 42 students from Lee’s high school were either hospitalized or treated for suicide attempt.
Why, however, is unknown. That leaves grieving parents behind with no true answer.
Some question what they could’ve done differently or how they could’ve prevented it. Yale psychologist, Sunyia Luthar, underlined that social, emotional, and behavioral issues are as present in the rich as they are in the poor.
On average, wealthy teenagers experience twice the national rates of anxiety and depression. The cause could be on pressure for “high-octane achievement”. Children of affluent parents might be facing expectations of excelling in both academics and social lives. This, in turns, skews their perception of “failure”. As such was possible in the case of Lee, who believed he had no true place in the world at just 16 years old, and decided it was not something he could find in time.
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