Growing up in the shadow of Hoover Tower, in an environment where success is sometimes taken for granted, high school students in Palo Alto face record levels of stress and anxiety.
A tragic manifestation of this is a suicide rate that far outstrips the national average, reports The Washington Post. Officials of Santa Clara county, which contains Palo Alto (and Stanford) have gone on the record calling the current situation as an “urgent public health problem.” All this has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to commission an epidemiological study on adolescent suicide in the county. They sent a team of suicide-prevention specialists to Santa Clara yesterday.
In the four years after 2010, Santa Clara county suffered an average of 20 adolescent suicides annually, five times the mean nationwide. The deaths have occurred in what are referred to as suicide clusters, or multiple suicides in a short time period. The county alone has suffered two suicide clusters in the past decade, a rarity when there are typically 50 such events nationwide every decade.
The CDC investigation into adolescent suicide in Santa Clara county underscores the gravity of the situation. Federal health investigators normally focus on high-risk and high-virality infectious disease outbreaks, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
Palo Alto’s two public high schools, Palo Alto High and Henry M. Gunn High, are widely regarded by many in the area as being extremely competitive environments, noted for their high-achieving students. Henry M. Gunn High sends dozens of students annually to Stanford.
Contact Nitish Kulkarni at nitish ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.