Deep in the heart of Silicon Valley the city of Palo Alto has experienced a teen suicide cluster, which has caught the eye of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A team of experts from the CDC is headed to Palo Alto to investigate the suicide cluster, which is actually the second cluster this city has seen in recent years.
According to ABC News on February 17, the CDC defines a suicide cluster as “three or more suicides in close proximity in regards to space and time.” The suicides in the city of Palo Alto fits this description.
Between the years of 2009 and 2010 five students or recent graduates of the Henry M Gunn High School had committed suicide. This “signaled a suicide cluster” for the CDC.
Shawna Chen talked with ABC News about the day she told her friends she would be attending Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto as a freshman in high school. She was surprised to hear them say “that’s the high school with suicides.”
Chen said she didn’t realize the gravity of this at first until her first two years in high school were done and in her third year another cluster of suicide occurred. Between October 2014 and March 2015 four teens committed suicide on the railroad tracks in Palo Alto. Three of the teens went to the Henry M. Gunn High School and the fourth student went to nearby Palo Alto High School.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports, this is an area of California that has given birth to Facebook, Tesla Motors, Google and HP. In this town for the last seven years, teens are ending their lives with suicides by trains and other means. The adolescent suicide rate in this town has “soared to five times the national average.”
“Over the course of nine months in 2009 and 2010, six Palo Alto teenagers died by suicide. Between 2010 and 2014, an average of 20 children and young adults died of suicide annually in Santa Clara County,” reports the Herald.
These deaths came in two suicide clusters and while there are an average of five suicide clusters in the U.S. each year, it is extremely rare when two occur in the same city within the same decade, which is what is seen in Palo Alto.
The teens took their own lives by dying on the tracks, “but also by hanging, jumping off a roof or overpass.” The aftermaths of these horrendous deaths play out the same each time it happened. “Their their classmates mourned them, and their distraught parents sought answers,” reports the Herald.
The CDC is planning to investigate these suicide deaths with experts in many fields on their team. They are arriving this week and plan to stay in Palo Alto for two weeks conducting this probe.