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Santa Maria youth ask for more mental health services - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Santa Maria youth ask for more mental health services

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Youth leaders in Santa Maria are calling for more mental health services for themselves and their families.

In October, some Santa Maria students ran a "Youth-Led Town Hall" to discuss ways to reduce youth violence. The meeting was in response to the Santa Maria Mayor's Task Force on Youth Safety.

Nearly a month and a half later, the data collected from the nearly 100 students at the meeting has been compiled. At a December 4 press conference organized by C.A.U.S.E., data released showed that students overwhelmingly called for more mental health services, citing a recent rise in teen suicides in the county.

"They need some support, some guidance towards making better decisions in their life. We want everyone to have a good future," said Jacqueline Mendoza, a junior at Santa Maria High School.

Teen suicide statistics from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Coroner show three teen suicides in the county between October 2016 to November 2017.

This increase comes after three years with no teen suicides. There was one in 2012.

"Our city should definitely recognize that we have an issue here in our county, providing more resources, putting more funding towards mental health resources like therapists, or more culturally competent counselors, having our teachers taking more trainings if that's possible," said Joanna Barerra with C.A.U.S.E.

Happening in Santa Maria this Thursday night, there will be a free event for students and families to talk about suicide. The event will be led by Casa Pacifica and will be held at First Christian Church from 6-8 p.m. 

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