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Lawmakers Look For Ways To Lower New Mexico's High Youth Suicide Rate

Todor Tsvetkov

New Mexico leads the nation in the number of suicides by youths ten to 17 years old. It’s the second leading cause of death by that age group.

It’s a number that Stan Rounds, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition of Education Leaders calls appalling and says he hopes lawmakers will take heed and use those statistics to build a legacy to address youth’s mental health.

Rounds was part of a panel on Monday that addressed the Legislative Education Study Committee looking at ways to prevent youth suicides.

President and CEO of Cook Center for Human ConnectionAnne Brown told the committee one major component is to show parents ways they can help their children with their emotional health problems.

“We have to get more players on the field helping these kids,” she said. “We have to have parents who understand how to look for the signs of suicide, how to talk to their children, how to talk them down in an anxious situation, how to motivate them in a depressive situation. How to embrace your child if they are coming out as gay. We have to help all of these families be able to help their child first.”          

One place that could provide school districts a template to address mental health issues among students is the small Mountainair School Districtin central New Mexico.

It’s a Title I district with about 20-percent of the students having a disability.     

The district has teamed up with the Cook Center in helping work with parents and the results have produced more participation in the schools and community involvement.                         

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