In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed annually from September 15 to October 15, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is expanding access to suicide prevention resources in Latino communities.

The foundation is also encouraging Latinos to have open conversations about mental health in order to destigmatize mental illness and help prevent suicide.

The suicide rate among Latinos increased by nearly 7% from 2018 to 2021, according to an AFSP news release.

“We know that religious beliefs and cultural stigma may be contributing factors that make talking about mental health and suicide prevention more difficult or taboo in Latino communities,” said Denisse Centeno Lamas, a licensed therapist and an AFSP Central Florida Chapter member, in the news release. “As a result, a suicide death, attempt or ideation, can elicit shame in families to disclose or talk openly about it. The notion that having a mental health condition can attract a label of ‘loco/a’ (crazy) deepens the aversion to sharing struggles and seeking help.”

The AFSP holds “Out of the Darkness” walks in hundreds of cities across the country to raise suicide awareness.

Available in Spanish and English, AFSP’s “Talk Saves Lives (TSL): An Introduction to Suicide Prevention for Latinx and Hispanic Communities” is a community-based presentation that provides individuals with an educational overview on suicide, research on prevention and a list of warning signs and behaviors to look for and more.

“People line up after every presentation I do to let me know how suicide and mental health has impacted their life. The word that always comes to mind at that moment is ‘breakthrough,’” said Gabi Vargas, a volunteer with AFSP’s Chicago chapter, in the news release. “It truly is amazing to see how one conversation can change your life in an instant. It resonates with me because I am a suicide attempt and loss survivor. It allows me to give back and also speak on my experience as an immigrant.”

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is also seeking to address the growing mental health crisis among Latino youth.

“When it comes to mental health research, Hispanic and Latino youth have been woefully understudied,” NIMH director Joshua Gordon, MD, PhD, wrote in a blog post. “Evidence indicates that Hispanic and Latino youth have pressing mental health needs and are not receiving adequate mental health care.”

NIMH supports community-based research to help Latino youth more readily access mental health services as well as research on interventions to help prevent or reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety.

To read more, click #Mental Health or #Suicide. There, you’ll find headlines such as “Latino Children Are More Depressed Than Their Peers,” “Suicide Rates Spike Among Latinos” and “Young People Living With HIV Face Higher Suicide Risk.”