Disturbing Suicide Cluster Prompts CDC to Start Investigation in Palo Alto
In Palo Alto, members of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s epidemiological assistance team are scheduled to begin an investigation this week on the “suicide contagion” risk in a similar way they may investigate a viral or bacterial outbreak that spreads through a community. As federal officials arrive in Palo Alto, they will face a community that is trying to find innovative ways to combat suicide when it becomes a “contagion.”
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Americans between the age of 15 to 24 and the third-leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 to 15, according to the CDC.
The string of suicides prompted the community to act. Both local government leaders and school officials had already worked to address suicide risk after the 2009 to 2010 cluster. The Palo Alto Unified School District and the Santa Clara Health Department both organized and coordinated community responses and initiatives aimed at protecting students based on materials provided by the CDC.