At 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19, the Los Alamos Public Schools Healthy Schools Initiative and United Way of Northern New Mexico’s Behavioral Health Initiative are hosting a presentation entitled, ‘Risk Factors For Suicidal Behaviors Among Los Alamos Youth.
Nicole Middaugh from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assigned to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and Tierney Murphy, Kelly Gallagher and Francisco Chavez will present their findings regarding suicidal behaviors among Los Alamos youth during the event in the Student Center, Building 2 at UNM-LA, 4000 University Dr.
The public is invited to attend this presentation, which will include detailed information on youth suicidal trends, protective factors, recommendations for reducing the risk of youth suicide.
Following the presentation, there will be time for discussion and an update on the LAPS Healthy Schools Initiative.
In the Spring of 2016, in response to a request from the Los Alamos Public School Board, NMDOH began a study to investigate the risk factors for fatal and non-fatal suicidal behaviors among Los Alamos County youth ages 10 to 19. Community concerns regarding the possibility of heightened risk for Los Alamos youth led to this request.
The study used data from NMDOH and Los Alamos Medical Center Emergency Room visits to complete a thorough and objective analysis of the issue. According to the findings of the investigation, “the most prevalent risk factor was having a diagnosis of depression.”
In addition to risk factors, the NMDOH team examined resiliency indicators which occur at higher rates for Los Alamos County high school students in comparison to their New Mexico peers and serve as protective factors against suicidal behaviors.
Over the past four years, UWNNM, in an effort to have more impact within the communities it serves, has been researching the region’s most pressing needs. These studies have shown that behavioral health issues are the link to many challenges facing nonprofits, governmental organizations, schools and community members. With that information in hand, UWNNM chose to begin the Behavioral Health Initiative with the goal of providing more resources, raising awareness and normalizing behavioral and mental health issues in Los Alamos.
The LAPS Healthy Schools Initiative is a new program which was created as a result of recommendations from the Mental Health Design Team and the Los Alamos Public School Board’s prioritization of student and staff well-being as one of their Strategic Plan’s eight focus areas.
The core team is made up of Healthy Schools Initiative Director Kristine Coblentz, school clinical psychologist ; Dr. Christine Hazard, Prevention Coordinator Bernadette Lauritzen and Angelica Roybal, the new elementary guidance counselor secretary. These staff members work under the supervision of LAPS Superintendent Dr. Kurt Steinhaus and are seeking input from staff, students, parents and community organizations and members as they formulate a comprehensive plan for the district.