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CDC Investigates Risk-Factors in Silicon Valley Town That Push High-Achieving Teenagers to the Brink

CDC Investigates Risk-Factors in Silicon Valley Town That Push High-Achieving Teenagers to the Brink

In a rare move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be arriving in Santa Clara, CA for a two-week site visit to investigate the high rate of student deaths in the area the past couple of years.

In Palo Alto, CA, the Silicon Valley town is a snapshot of wealth and success. The average household income is double California’s median and in one of the town’s high schools, 74 percent of students have at least one parent holding a graduate degree.

But while the town may appear to be idyllic on the outside, it is being ravaged by tragedy as it experiences an unprecedented number of teenage suicides.

The suicides began seven years ago, and since it has experienced two suicide clusters, or multiple suicides within a short time frame.

"Having two in the same city,” said the Washington Post, 'in less than a decade is extremely rare.”

"Over the course of nine months in 2009 and 2010, six Palo Alto teenagers committed suicide. Between 2010 and 2014, an average of 20 children and young adults killed themselves annually in Santa Clara County, where Palo Alto is located,” the Post said.

While the CDC normally performs on-site visits for infectious-disease outbreaks, its presence for a chronic health problem signifies the urgency of action.

It will work to define risk-factors that are forcing Palo Alto’s teenagers to lose hope. After all, many Palo Alto teenagers are given every tool for success that could be had.

Despite the likelihood of success, experts say that wealthy children are as likely to experience high-levels of anxiety and depression as are children at the opposite end of the spectrum in poor neighborhoods.

Pressure to succeed in every aspect of their teenage lives -in school, in extracurricular, in social lives- can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness if failures in balancing it all are perceived.

The CDC’s presence, however, reminds students in the area that hope is out there, and students are rallying together to stay strong under the “pressure for high-octane achievement.”

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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