February 18, 2021
Following Spike in Youth Suicide, Child Mental Health Advocates Urge NY Leaders to Invest in Continuum of Supports
NEW YORK, NY — In response to news that three New York City students committed suicide in the span of three weeks, Jennifer March, Executive Director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children, released the following statement on behalf of the Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids.
“We are devastated to learn that three New York City students took their lives in the past three weeks, and our thoughts are with their families and communities as they endure this incomprehensible loss. The epidemic of youth suicide gripping our city, state and country stems in part from a larger crisis of insufficient capacity for child behavioral health services that existed long before the pandemic. COVID-19 has led to loss of life, loss of income, disruption in education, and increased social isolation, resulting in even more children and adolescents experiencing profound levels of trauma and heightened behavioral health needs. In the face of heightened need, critical child mental health and substance use services remain largely inaccessible in New York State.
“To ensure suffering New York children and families can get the life-saving care they need, we need robust state investments in a continuum of supports, from screening and referrals, to investments in clinical treatment across age ranges, to services in all the settings where children find themselves – primary care, early education, and schools. The State must also protect investments in community services, rather than cut funding and shift costs to localities like New York City. Additionally, our state leaders must ensure equity in telehealth services and expand access to behavioral health supports in the Child Health Plus program.
“There is so much more our State must do to support struggling families, including ensuring that all children have access to the behavioral health supports they need, when they need them.
New York’s state leaders must act now to prevent more loss and make sure every child in our state can grow up safe and healthy.”