Suicide prevention program uses art and community to help at-risk Latinas
Established in 2008 by Dr. Rosa Gil, the Life is Precious™ (LIP) Latina Girls Club & Suicide Prevention program is a project of Comunilife, a leading nonprofit housing, health, and human services agency serving New York City’s Hispanic community since 1989.
Dr. Gil shares, “When a teen enters a LIP, she is met by a knowledgeable and empathetic staff of professional young Latinas. Once there, she receives tutoring to improve her academic performance; takes part in creative arts therapy to work through their emotions using art, music, movement, and poetry; increases her self-esteem by improving their sense of self-worth; and opens lines of communication with her family. Our teens are given the hope to imagine a future full of possibilities and the tools to achieve them.”
LIP has provided more than 400 Latina teens with culturally and linguistically appropriate services to help reduce the risk factors that led to their at-risk behavior. Their partnering clinics also provide psychiatric services. With the financial support of the Maximus Foundation, all core LIP activities have continued online to ensure that at-risk, vulnerable teens have a sense of continuity during a time of upheaval.
Charlie enrolled in the Life Is Precious program in June 2019. She was referred by the Bellevue Hospital after her admission for suicidal ideation. Through mentoring and ongoing support from the case manager, Charlie engaged with all the remote program activities during the pandemic: Monday Fundays, Art Therapy, La Cocinita Preciosa, Music Therapy, Leaders of Tomorrow, Words for the Soul, and changed her schedule to attend Girl Talk.
Charlie began to further express her emotions through art, music, writing and developed healthy coping mechanisms and a sense of community with her peers and staff. Charlie’s mother, who also participates in weekly family support groups, shared that she noticed positive changes in her daughter.
Charlie created a piece for the Art Therapy Summer 2020 Project and won the Creative Slam for Words of The Soul, which left everyone impressed. Charlie wrote a poem titled “Compassion” and was able to perform it for everyone via Zoom. Her progress is a testament to the coping mechanisms that are developed through the essential case management services provided by the Life Is Precious program. To learn more, visit comunilifelip.org.
Compassion that’s such a short word for how bad you can feel for someone you love or hate
I hate having compassion for people I hate
I wasn’t born being compassionate
I feel my hands getting tense and sweaty
I feel the pain so much that I want them to feel that pain that I feel
Avoiding taking a step out of bed to see a new day.
Crying knowing the pain won’t go away
Mad I will feel
Rock feeling, unable to break
My friends are aware of how tense I can get
Even with my friends, i got mad when they corrected me
Did I say it right?
I got mad when people asked me questions
Why just why
This sad the mad the feeling of bitterness
It was all so intense
I started to have compassion for others that felt mad or sad
Compassion is not just feeling sad or mad about a person
it's acting on the pity you feel for the person
Compassion can be good or bad
But it always makes me mad