10 Ways You Can Help!

10 Ways to Help

We get asked all the time, “How can I help?” “What can I do to support Teen Lifeline?” 

It’s true that monetary donations do keep our doors open and allow us to provide a connection of hope to teens in crisis.

But, there’s so much more!

In honor of our 30th anniversary, we’re going to take a look at 30 ways that YOU can support Teen Lifeline, starting with these 10, in no particular order:

1. Donate Prizes

September is Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness MONTH. During this time we, along with other area organizations, visit schools across the state, provide information, and showcase lifesaving resources available for teens. In order to help make it even more fun, we hold raffles and give out prizes that include backpacks, gadgets, and other school supplies. YOU can help us by donating some of these items!

2.Donate Auction Items

At our Connections of Hope gala and the annual Firetag Golf Tournament we hold live and silent auctions. Because of this, we’re always in need of great auction items! Whether it’s an all-expenses paid vacation, restaurant voucher, or professional services, we use it all! Proceeds from these auctions are what really generates the revenue that helps us answer the nearly 16,000 crisis calls we get every year! To learn more or to donate an item for an auction, contact Amanda at amanda@teenlifeline.org.

3. Donate In-Kind Items

Do you know we have a “Wish List”? It includes a variety of items that we need and/or “wish” to upgrade, but helps with the daily operations of our organization (including some incentives for our awesome Peer Counselors!).

4. Donate Unused Gift Cards

Have a gift card to AMC you just won’t use? Or maybe something to a local grocery store or shop around town? We can use those! Sometimes we use them to recognize the amazing efforts of our Peer Counselors, and sometimes we use them for giveaways when we are out in the community. So if you have a gift card you don’t want, donate it!

5. Organize a Community Awareness Event

There are still many teens and adults that don’t know about the resources available to them in the community. Start a block-party or other awareness event and help spread the message of hope to your friends, family, and community!

6. Write a review on Great Nonprofits

Have you seen first hand the positive impact Teen Lifeline has made on the community? Tell everyone about it! Head over to Great Nonprofits and write a review!

7. Connect with us on Social Media

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. LinkedIn. We’re all over trying to spread our message of hope. Connect with us and SHARE our positive message with your network. You never know, it could save a life!

8. Share Our Newsletter

Encourage your friends and family to sign-up for our newsletter! They’ll receive tons of information on teen mental health and get the latest updates on what our organization is up to!

9. Host a Parent Education Session

Host a brunch with your friends and tell them all about Teen Lifeline and our services. You can even invite us out and we can answer any questions first hand.

10. Include Teen Lifeline in Conversations

Communication is a powerful tool in helping prevent teen suicide. Talk to your friends and family about Teen Lifeline and help spread our message of hope!

If you want to learn more about these, or other ways you can help support Teen Lifeline, reach out to our Donor Relations Coordinator, Nick, at 602-248-8337 or nick@teenlifeline.org!

Signs of Suicide Your Friends May Show

As friends, we are sometimes the first people to notice signs that someone might be going through a rough patch in life. When that rough patch becomes too much to handle, we are often the only people that can suspect that our friends might be suicidal. Teens are often more likely to be themselves around their peers than they are to parents, older family members, teachers, etc. They might guard themselves closely as to not let anything show, but, to you, their friend, they might not even notice that they are letting their guard down. For this reason, it is important that you are aware of some of the signs and risk factors that you might see in someone that is thinking about suicide. Note that “risk factors” are common situations, such as a parent’s divorce or loss of a loved one, which put teens at a higher risk of suicide.

Today, however, we will be focusing specifically on signs.

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Signs are things that you can watch out for that might indicate to you that someone is possibly thinking about suicide. They are sometimes very obvious things, but a lot of times they are subtle things for which you have to watch out. They don’t always mean that someone is absolutely, one hundred percent suicidal, but they are definitely signs that should concern you. They are definitely not things that you should brush off as normal. Bellow we will discuss some of the more common signs. As you learn about them, think about your friends and see if there is anyone in your life who might be showing some of these.

Direct and Indirect Statements

Direct and indirect statements are probably some of the easier warning signs to notice. Direct statements are pretty simple. If a friend tells you bluntly that they are feeling suicidal, that they are thinking about killing themselves, or things along those lines, that is a direct statement. It is a statement that is directly identifying the fact that they are feeling suicidal.

Indirect statements are a bit more subtle, but they are still easy to notice if you know what to look for. Like direct statements, indirect statements acknowledge the fact that they are feeling suicidal. Indirect statements are things such as “I wish I could go to sleep and I never had to wake up,” “I can’t do this anymore,” “I wish I weren’t here,” “I wish I had never been born,” etc. They are things that allude to feelings of not wanting to be alive without explicitly saying it.

Isolation

Isolation is another sign that you might be able to easily notice in your friends. Isolation is when someone suddenly starts to close themselves off from everyone else in their life. If you have a friend that you were used to seeing on a daily basis, who loves to go out with friends, and suddenly they want to spend time by themselves, then they might be displaying isolation due to possible suicidal feelings.

Behavioral Changes

Often times, people who are feeling suicidal don’t realize that they are exhibiting behavioral signs of suicidal feelings. Behavioral signs are changes that you might notice especially with your close friends. There are several types of behavioral changes that may point to possible suicidal feelings. If you notice that one of your friends is suddenly eating more than usual or less than usual, that is a sign. If they are sleeping more than usual or less, that is also a warning sign.

Another type of behavioral change includes extreme mood swings. If you notice that one of your friends has recently become able to go from being happy to being extremely angry, or sad, or has had any type of mood swings, then that might alert you to the fact that they might be feeling suicidal.

Lastly, if you have noticed that your friend has become depressed or has expressed feeling of hopelessness for more than two weeks that can also be a sign that your friend might be feeling suicidal. If you notice this, or any of these behavioral changes, you might want to keep your eye out for your friend.

Idolizing Death

Idolizing death is another common sign that you might notice. Idolizing death happens when someone is talking about death a lot or are making drawings about death, or writing about death. This is a common form in which feelings of suicide are displayed. Idolizing death, of course, doesn’t always mean that someone is suicidal. There are plenty of people who “idolize death” but are not at all suicidal. However, it is still important to take notice if it is out of character.

Giving Away Prized Possessions

We all have things that we hold dear to ourselves. People tend to place emotional value on certain things. Perhaps they have a book they really love, or trophy they got when they were younger, or items that were gifted by important people in their life. Or perhaps they hold dear things that are very useful to them like their computer, or their phone, journal, or jewelry. When one of your friends starts to give away some of these possessions for no apparent reason, that might show that they are feeling suicidal. Giving away prized possessions is a sign of suicide, and an alarming one at that. Often, this warning sign appears when someone is seriously considering suicide and considered a plan or is already executing one. If you notice this, it is very important that you take action and get help.

Saying Final Goodbyes

Like giving away prized possessions, saying final goodbyes is a sign that indicates the person is considering suicide as a serious option. It is something that is typically done when someone has been thinking about suicide for a very long time. Saying final goodbyes is just as it sounds. This is when someone starts to say goodbye to their loved ones, and saying things like “thank you for all you’ve done for me,” etc. If one of your friends is saying goodbye, it is imperative that you get help immediately.

Is one of your friends showing some of these signs?

If you notice any of your friends showing a couple or more of these signs, it doesn’t mean that your friend is suicidal without a doubt. However, it does mean that you should pay attention to your friend and take steps to make sure that your friend remains safe. If you have reason to believe that your friend is suicidal, it is a good idea to get help from a trusted adult such as parents, teachers, or school counselors. They will have the resources you need to help your friend remain safe. If you don’t feel like you can go to any adults, asking your friend directly if they are feeling suicidal is a good way of talking about your friend’s feelings. Often times, people that are suicidal feel alone and trapped. Talking about their feelings can come as a great relief to many people. Lastly, if you or your friend needs someone to talk to about their suicidal feelings, Teen Lifeline is here to help. The Peer Counselors at Teen Lifeline are thoroughly trained to handle calls dealing with suicide. Teen Lifeline can help you or your friend come up with a plan that can help you with your situation. You can call or text us at 602-248-TEEN.


Luis Barcelo

For the past four years Luis Barcelo has volunteered thousands of hours for Teen Lifeline as a Peer Counselor. Now, as an adult volunteer and communications intern at Teen Lifeline, he hopes to continue helping struggling teens wherever they may be.


 

College Move-In Stress: How to Reduce It

With graduations over, new grads are counting down the days to their first day in college. For the majority of these grads, college also serves as their opportunity to leave the nest and flap their wings. For those that are going to college out of state, and even for a lot of those that are staying inside the state, college will be where they experience living independently for the first time. It is an opportunity that is at the forefront of a lot of these grads’ mind. Admittedly, living at home can be very difficult at times. There can be many arguments, fights, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings sometimes. Likewise, a lot of people tremendously enjoy being at home. After all, home is where their family is, where they feel loved and included. Leaving away for college may seem like a dream or a nightmare come true. Regardless, moving away for college comes with a high dose of stress.

With everything going on during this transition, it is easy to overlook or willfully ignore the signs of overbearing stress. Often times, there is simply just too much that needs to be done and it is easy to forget to take care of yourself.

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Tips for Reducing College Move-In Stress

  1. Contact Your Roommate

Students are often told who they are going to be living with a few weeks or so in advance. Thankfully, with social networks, it is very easy to find and communicate with your future roommate. It might relieve some stress to talk with the person that you will live with for the greater part of the next year. There are several advantages to talking with your roommate before move-in day. The earlier you start communicating with your roommate, the greater the rapport you will have when you meet them face-to-face. This could easily cut back on some of the uncomfortableness that comes with physically meeting your roommate which is also a common source of stress. Additionally, communication may allow you to coordinate with your roommate to ensure that you don’t bring the same stuff or and you may get the opportunity to buff out other specifics (personally, I like to sleep with the wall to my left when I lay down, so that would be a requirement for me!).

  1. Be Realistic

A common contributing stress factor is the physical act of moving in. Worrying about bringing too much stuff or not bringing enough can add a lot of stress to students and parents alike. Therefore, in order to reduce stress, it might be a good idea to think realistically. Try to bring items you know for a fact that you will need. Don’t bring extra items “just in case.” This not only increases the amount of energy and effort needed to move-in, but it also makes it uncomfortable when you are figuring out dorm space with your roommate. However, if there is something that you are confident you would use on a regular basis, don’t leave it behind simply because you think you can go without it or you can get one quickly once you are settled in. Stores are all going to be filled with college students also trying to buy last-minute items which will leave store shelves empty. Additionally, you might be too busy with classes and other college activities so you will not have time to go out shopping for things you could have simply brought with you from home.

  1. Get Help

Moving in all by yourself can seem like a daunting task, especially if you want to check out the campus instead of carry boxes for hours. There is no shame in needing some help moving in. Ask for some of your friends to come along so you can get yourself loaded, unloaded, and set up quickly in you dorm. It can even become an exciting trip for you and your friends. If done with the right people, moving can be more fun and less exhausting. Throw a pizza in the mix at the end of the day with some cold beverages and I am confident you won’t be scrambling to find people to help you.

  1. Don’t Forget Your Resources!

Schools are no strangers to the incredible amount of stress put upon their incoming students. They know that this transition in the life is no walk in the park. For that reason, a lot of colleges and universities have established resources for their students. Make sure to look at your school’s website to find where you would be able to find resources that might be useful. Arizona State University, for example, has counseling services at four locations which are available for students who may be struggling with any aspect of college life. The University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University both offer similar services to their students.  If you are moving to another state or city, make sure that you find the numbers for local resources you may need like police, firefighters, and hospitals. Hopefully you don’t need to use any of those resources, but if the need arises, you’d be happy that you are prepared.

  1. Don’t Forget Your Coping Skills!

Coping skills are very important and are often times completely forgotten in times of stress, when they are needed most. You might not know what coping skills are, but I guarantee that you have some. You probably call them hobbies, or pass-times, or time-killers, or, simply, things-that-I-do-for-fun. Coping skills can be almost anything If you like to sing, that is a coping skill. If you like to draw, that is a coping skill. If you like to play video games, that is a coping skills. Write, read, listen to music, run, walk, bike, nap, exercise, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Reddit, Instagram; yup, those are all coping skills! If you do it for fun and it makes you feel better when you are feeling upset, then those are coping skills for you. They are different for everyone and, by now, you should have a small or big list of things that you go to when you are feeling upset. During this period in your life, don’t forget about these coping skills. They are still as available to you now as they have always been, so don’t turn your back on them!

Hopefully these tips can help you make sure that your transition into college is far less stressful than it has to be. Remember, if at any point during this transition (or during any point, before or after you start college) you feel like everything is just too overwhelming and you need someone to help you work things out, the Peer Counselors at Teen Lifeline are here to help you as best as they can. Call or text at any point and you will instantly be connected to a teen who can help you figure out how to reduce the stress in your life!


Luis Barcelo

For the past four years Luis Barcelo has volunteered thousands of hours for Teen Lifeline as a Peer Counselor. Now, as an adult volunteer and communications intern at Teen Lifeline, he hopes to continue helping struggling teens wherever they may be.


 

LGBT Teens in School

As far back as 1969, June has been an important month for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender (LGBT) community. During the month of June, many events are held throughout the United States and the world in order to celebrate and support the LGBT community. Over the last few decades, the LGBT community and straight allies have organized to provide safe spaces for LGBT students throughout the country.

Today, we will focus on schools and what they are doing to ensure that their LGBT students feel supported and, most importantly, safe.

LGBT Teens in School

In 1999, the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) noticed that there was a lack of research about LGBT students in schools. In order to combat this lack of knowledge, GLSEN launched their first National School Climate Survey. This survey aims to understand and explore the prevalence of anti-LGBT language, victimization of the LGBT community, school policies that may be negatively impacting the LGBT community, the impact that hostile school environments can have on LGBT youth, and polices or other contributing factors that may offset any negative effects.

LGBT Teens in Schools

During the 2013 National School Climate Survey, over 7,800 students in middle school and high school were able to complete this survey.

The survey conclude that schools were unsafe and unwelcoming for teens of the LGBT community.

  • 65% of LGBT participants reported that they heard homophobic remarks frequently or often during school.
  • 30% of students reported that they missed at least one day in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable in school.
  • 85% of students were personally verbally harassed.
  • 56% of students reported that they felt discriminated due to policies at school and common practices.

Many of students in the LGBT community reported that there were policies in place at their school that restricted student expression, prohibited LGBT curricular content, and enforced traditional gender roles.

  • 18% of students claimed that were not allowed to bring same-sex dates to school dances.
  • 19% of students reported that they were deterred from wearing clothes that were deemed “inappropriate” for their gender.
  • 28% of students claimed that they were disciplined for public displays of affections which were not similarly cause for discipline towards non-LGBT couples.

GLSEN determine that the more LGBT students felt that they were being victimized and discriminated, the more severe the negative effects became.

  • Students who felt they were harassed at a high level had an average GPA of 2.8 Students who felt they were not victimized as often had an average GPA of 3.2.
  • 96% of students who reported low levels of victimization for their gender expression said that they would pursue post-secondary education. Only 92% of students who felt they were highly victimized for their gender expression reported that they were likely to pursue these avenues.
  • Students that felt they were highly victimized at school also reported having lower levels of self-esteem.

What are school doing to help?

One great way that schools are helping combat these negative effects is through the implementation of Gay Straight Alliances (GSA). GSAs are student-affiliated and student-ran clubs within schools where members of the LGBT community can go and find support from other members of their community within their school, as well as from non-LGBT students who are supportive of the LGBT community. GSAs provide a safe environment for students to discuss common problems of the LGBT community such as sexual orientation and gender identity. Members of GSAs strive to create a school environment that is free of harassment, discrimination, and intolerance.

According to GLSEN’s National School Climate survey, half of all students surveyed reported that their school had allowed the implementation of GSAs. In 2008, GLSEN reported that they had over 4,000 GSAs registered with them. This is great news for the community because it has been observed that the presence of a GSA in school is very positive for the students there.

  • 57% of students in schools with a GSA reported hearing less homophobic remarks versus 75% at schools where a GSA wasn’t present.
  • Students that had access to a GSA reported that they experienced less violence based on their sexual orientation or their gender expression. In Michigan, for example, it was noted that students who were in LGBT relationships or might be in one soon, were half as likely to experience dating violence, being threatened or injured at school, or miss schools due to fear.
  • One third of LGBT of students without a GSA reported missing school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable at school. When a school had a GSA, that number dropped to one fourth.

LGBT Teens in Schools

Across the country, teachers seem to be supportive of GSA’s themselves. Over half of teachers in secondary schools believed that the presence of a GSA would make their school safer for LGBT students. GSAs have the added benefit of allowing students to identify faculty members that are supportive of the LGBT community. In schools with a GSA, only a third of students were able to identify supportive faculty members, while half of the students were able to identify them if they had a GSA. Because of this, LGBT students who have a GSA in their school also report feeling that they belong to their school’s community more than students without a GSA.

With this in mind, it would seem that GSAs are a valuable addition to any school. It is not disputed whether there aren’t awful struggles within schools for LGBT students. Across the board, students are reporting feeling unsafe due to the prevalence of LGBT discrimination and harassment. GSAs seem to offer a way to combat the negative effects that may arise from these circumstances. If you are a student who doesn’t know if their school has a GSA, may want to join your school’s GSA, or want to start a GSA at your school but you have no idea where to start, call us at Teen Lifeline. Our Peer Counselors are trained to help you figure out the steps you need to take to feel safe at school, or help those around you feel safe.


Luis Barcelo

For the past four years Luis Barcelo has volunteered thousands of hours for Teen Lifeline as a Peer Counselor. Now, as an adult volunteer and communications intern at Teen Lifeline, he hopes to continue helping struggling teens wherever they may be.


 

Five Mental Health Apps

There are millions of apps available for people who want to play games, plan their days, talk to their friends, and capture their lives online. With the accessibility that comes with smartphone, and with one in every pocket, there is no limit to the power that can come from the apps ran on these devices. Thankfully, there are many apps that can help teens better handle stress, anxiety, and improve their overall mental health.

Here are 5 apps that we think you should check out and see if they can help you!

1. Pacifica

Pacifica | Five Mental Health Apps

 

Pacifica is a great app that offers many ways to handle your stress. Pacifica aims to break the cycle of fear that causes people to feel anxiety and stress. According to Pacifica’s own description, “Fearful thoughts causes physical feelings which cause actions. Your heart starts racing, so you think you’re in danger, so you want to escape. Pacifica attempts to break this cycle using tools that target each of its components via Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” Pacifica offers you the awesome tools such as the ability to track your mood throughout your day, listen to audio exercises when you are feeling anxiety, verbally record your thoughts so you can analyze your distorted thinking patterns, daily challenges to help you make progress, and connect privately or with helpful communities.

Pacifica is available for both iOS and Android devices. The app is free to download, but require you to subscribe to their service for $3.99 a month or $29.99 a year.

2. Stop Breath And Think

Stop Breath And Think | Five Mental Health Apps

Stop Breathe and Think is a free tool that helps you learn to meditate. Research has shown that mediation can help many people better handle their daily stress and anxiety. Stop Breathe and Think revolves around a simple process. First, stop whatever you are doing. Whether you are spending all afternoon texting with friends, playing video games, or watching funny YouTube videos, simply stop. Then, take some time to breathe. Focusing on your breathing is a good way to relax and clear your mind. Finally, think. Think about what is going on around you, what is making you stressed out, or anxious. Stop Breathe and Think can help you meditate in just five minutes!

Stop Breathe and Think is free and available for both iOS and Android devices.

3. Happify

Happify | Five Mental Health Apps

Happify allows you to choose a goal and helps you achieve that goal yourself. Happify can help you conquer negative thoughts, cope with stress, build self-confidence, and achieve mindfulness through meditation along with over thirty other options called tracks. Once you have chosen your track, Happify provides you with small games that help you along your journey. Some of the games ask you to do things like list your daily victories, while others have you stare at a beach scene for a period of time. According to Happify’s own surveys, 86% of the people who use the app report improving their life after a two month period.

Happify is available to download for free for iOS and Android devices. Happify Plus subscriptions start as low as $4.99 per month.

4. Unique Daily Affirmations

Unique Daily Affirmations | Five Mental Health Apps

Affirmations is a great way to give yourself a boost of self-esteem and to remind yourself of your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses. Unique Daily Affirmations shows you affirmations daily. When the affirmation comes on the screen, simply press the “HOLD” button as you repeat the affirmations out loud. This app is available for iOS and Android devices for free!

5. Hydro Coach

Hydro Coach | Five Mental Health Apps

Research shows that proper hydration is a great way to keep stress at bay. It is highly documented how stress can be minimized by drinking water. Studies have shown that even being two cups dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels which is one of the stress hormones. Every single part of your body needs water to function properly, and when they are highly hydrated, well, they can do their job the way that they are supposed to. This doesn’t mean that drinking enough water every day is going to get rid of everything in your life that may be causing you stress, but it will help you ensure that you are well equipped to deal with it.

Hydro Coach is an app that helps you calculate how much water your body needs based on your height, age, gender, and climate. It uses the time you wake up and the time you go to sleep to help you calculate your drinking pace and reminds you to drink throughout the day to keep drinking water. Open the app every time you finish a cup, or a water bottle so that it can add it to your log. It keeps track of your drinking habits day after day.

Hydro Coach is available free on Android and similar apps can be found on iOS.


Luis BarceloFor the past four years Luis Barcelo has volunteered thousands of hours for Teen Lifeline as a Peer Counselor. Now, as an adult volunteer and communications intern at Teen Lifeline, he hopes to continue helping struggling teens wherever they may be.


 

Making Sense of Snapchat Dangers Facing Our Kids

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With all the negative headlines and scary scenarios swirling around about social media, raising children in today’s digital world can be intimidating. Afterall, our sons and daughters are encountering a plethora of emerging dangers that were unheard of when we were young. Back in our day, we were concerned about teasing our bangs to unnatural heights or finding the perfect Kaboodle to stash our collection of lip gloss. However, our kids are facing social media oversharing, cyberbullying, sexting, and online predators.

Our digital natives might not bat an eyelash at these dangers, but all of this swiping and sharing is new to many of us who still remember when telephones had cords tethered to a wall. As we join the social media bandwagon by joining sites like Facebook or downloading other apps, our children are turning to the fast paced world of disappearing messaging apps. One popular social media app that our children are utilizing is Snapchat.

Understanding Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the leading disappearing messaging apps that continues to grow in popularity with our kids. It allows users to send images, photos, videos, or messages to select friends that automatically disappear after the receiver views the “chat”. The fleeting messages are a major draw to children, because many believe that it promotes more authentic forms of communication without creating a massive digital footprint full of selfies and memes.

For a more detailed account of the ins and outs of Snapchat, please watch the following informational video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuAedB1TmdE

Making Sense Of Snapchat Dangers Facing Our Kids

The self destructing message feature offers users a sense of security, but we do need to sit back and really analyze if this app is safe. The promise of disappearing messages can encourage children to take risks they would never attempt on regular social media or in real life. In fact, Snapchat is widely becoming known for cases of cyberbullying and sexting.

It is believed that almost 90 percent of our children have encountered digital bullying and 54 percent of surveyed students openly admitted to sexting before they turned 18. Widespread bullying is concerning, but we also need to realize sexting is now considered a normal part of development in adolescence. It’s the new version of “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” for modern children.

This makes it vital for parents to monitor a child’s technology use. We need to stay on top of our child’s Smartphone, device, and interactions while teaching them appropriate social media etiquette skills. In addition, we need to challenge ourselves to begin an ongoing conversation about social media and the role it plays in our lives.

How do you protect children from disappearing messaging apps?


hilary smith“Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.”


 

Emotional Emergencies

pexels-photo-27967-largeWe teach our sons and our daughters that when there’s an emergency, when someone is physically in danger, that they should dial 911. We ingrain it in our children at an early age until it becomes second nature to them as they grow up and become teens. Even when you feel like they’re at that stage where they might not be listening to you, you can have peace of mind that they know what to do in a physical emergency.

But what about an emotional one?

What about when your son or daughter is stressed out about their grades and homework load at school? What about when your daughter breaks up with her high school sweetheart? What about when your son feels like they are “letting the team down”? Or they’re constantly feeling bullied and unsafe at their school?

What do they do when they begin to feel isolated, withdrawn, misunderstood…or all alone?

What do they do then?

All of us at Teen Lifeline, we believe that every teen, every one of your sons and your daughters and their friends, should never feel alone. If they do, we want them to know that there is a place, a number, which they can turn to and call. A place that they can feel connected to someone who understands them. A place where someone can help bring perspective back for them; to connect them to resources and people in their own life that they can trust. We call it a “connection of hope”.

Our crisis hotline and the Peer Counselors that staff it, are here to listen and help every teen that reaches out. But it takes your help.

It takes your generosity to train Peer Counselors, to operate our hotline, to send our prevention staff into the community. It takes your donations, 3rd party fundraisers, social media shares, and all around support to help us reassure our youth that they don’t have to face these struggles on their own.

So, while your children know to call 911 in an emergency, help them to know where to turn for an emotional one.

i need help

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The three small words appeared on the screen. Jesus, a Peer Counselor for two years, immediately texted back a message and waited.

It was the first text message that Teen Lifeline would receive, marking a new era for our organization.

Because of the generosity of YOU and the community, Teen Lifeline was able to soft launch our new text messaging service, the first new program in 20 years, on December 14th, 2015. It’s a program that gives us a chance to really connect with teens on their level.

Ted, another Peer Counselor that helped clinical staff test the new service, said, “In many ways, texting for a teen is less intimidating than talking on the phone. We hope that using texting will appeal to a wider range of teenagers who might really need our service. They can text with a Peer Counselor just like they would a friend, getting the same care that they would if they had called.”

IMG_9341Jesus added, “It’s a pretty easy transition for the Peer Counselors, too. We’re using the same exact skills we learned for the hotline.”

Jesus would go on to have a back and forth conversation with that very first texter over several hours. They were feeling suicidal, but Jesus and Teen Lifeline were able to provide them with the resources and hope needed.

Since then, each new day has seen a gradual influx in texts.

“I think there are probably many teenagers out in the community who would really benefit from our services,” Ted explained, “but they just aren’t yet comfortable calling the hotline. This is a great way to get them to test us out.”

Ted said that while the hotline is 24/7, texting will only be available between 3pm and 9pm every day. During that time, any teen in Arizona can text the hotline number (602-248-TEEN) and have another teen answer. As always, all messages will be monitored by one of our Master’s Level Clinicians.

Clinical Director, Nikki Kontz, further said, “We definitely want to encourage the teens that text to eventually call the hotline because things can be better assessed and done faster. But, including text messaging will allow us to reach those teens that are scared or hesitant to call a crisis line.”

Ted believes the new texting service will have a huge impact on the community. “I think that expanding our services to include texting is an amazing tool to aid in prevention… and [because of it] we will continue to save lives and prevent more teen suicides.”

30 Years of Help and Hope

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The original logo.

It all started with Molly Ringwald and Zach Galligan in a 1985 made-for-tv movie called Surviving. It was the first time teen suicide had been discussed on a national level, and the film kick-started the notion that something needed to be done.

Enter Teen Lifeline in 1986.

The concept was simple. Studies had shown teens first turn to other teens to talk about their problems. So, Teen Lifeline set out to train teens aged 15-19 to take calls and provide hope and help to their peers.

Now in our 30th year, our mission has remained unchanged; to provide a safe, confidential, and crucial crisis service where teens help teens make healthy decisions together. Our vision? To prevent teen suicide.

It has been with the tremendous support from our community that we have been able to grow and reach hundreds of thousands of teens across the state of Arizona.

YOUR support helped build a peer-to-peer crisis hotline that provides 24/7 service with Peer Counseling from 3-9pm every. single. day.

YOUR continued commitment has helped Peer Counselors save over 175,000 lives! We’ve been able to reach over HALF A MILLIONpeople throughout Arizona with our prevention messaging through schools and other youth organizations.

YOU have truly become part of the “connection of hope”.

And 2016 is shaping up to be our biggest year yet!

Not only are we expanding our 602 number to include a texting service but we are also excited to be expanding our Community Ed department! This year we’ll be able to provide better coverage in reaching communities in Northern and Southern Arizona. (We’ll have more details on this expansion soon!)

So, as we reflect on 30 years of help and hope, we want to thank YOU! Your support matters. Whether it’s  donations, volunteering, holding those 3rd party fundraisers, or simply sharing our message on social media – together we’re bringing hope to our children.

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Digital Safety and Teenagers

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As parents, we have prepared our children to handle peer pressure, underage drinking, and sexual exploration. While we have had many heart to heart talks on these issues, chances are we have addressed them to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, the world our sons and daughters are living in is evolving with digital advances. These changes mean that we might be missing an important conversation with our children in one key area: digital safety.

Why Digital Safety Matters

It is imperative that we challenge ourselves to instruct our teens on digital safety to prevent their exposure to some very negative scenarios lurking behind the screens of our beloved devices. Here is a sampling of the most common pitfalls our teens may encounter: cyberbullying, oversharing, identity theft, sexting, and online predators. Up until a few years ago, many of these subjects were unheard of and completely off a parent’s radar.

Take for instance the case of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has been linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. If that isn’t bad enough, recent research unveiled digital aggression is so common that 87 percent of our children have encountered this trend. This is appalling on many fronts, but these statistics show within the last year cyberbullying rates have tripled!

While technology has provided easy access for bullies to their victims, it has also opened an avenue for sexual exploration. The digital world has led to a revolution of sexting and sharing racy images. Children who sext are opening themselves up to cyberbullying, harassment, exploitation, and prosecution for distributing or possessing child pornography. In fact, sexting is so commonplace that experts are now declaring it a normal part of development.

Those are frightening realizations for many parents, especially when we consider that 70 percent of teens take measures to hide their online activity from us! Children need to understand how their social media presence can impact future goals and opportunities. Employers, colleges, scholarship committees, and even possible offspring will be able to view what is posted online years from now.

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Nine Ways To Embrace Digital Safety

Thankfully, parents have the power to take an active stance in regards to a child’s digital safety. Choosing to be involved allows us to instruct children on the correct ways to handle our devices. By reducing a child’s risks, we can ensure they have the opportunities to live a healthy and happy life enriched, not hindered, by technology.

Listed below are nine practical ways to embrace digital safety within our families:

Help teens set their privacy settings and passwords. One of the easiest ways to keep children safe online is as simple as using adequate privacy settings. Take a few minutes and check to see if a child’s privacy is protected and encourage them to never share their passwords.

Tell children to “friend” or follow people they actually know. Cyberbullies and predators are notorious for creating fake accounts which they use to gain access to their victims.

Limit data to prevent oversharing or sexting. Studies show that the greatest deterrent to sexting is as simple as limiting their data plans.

Track your child’s online activity. Be aware of how your child behaves online by knowing the sites they frequent and who their friends are.

Encourage a teen to seek help from an adult if they witness or receive menacing messages. Data shows that only one out of ten kids will do this! Surprisingly, when an adult intervenes the bullying will stop within ten seconds.

Develop a technology contract. As a family, create a list of expectations, rules, and consequences concerning the role of technology. This should help prevent future problems and arguments.

Teach social media etiquette and build on this as a child ages. In the beginning, stress to post only things they would feel comfortable with Nana or Papa seeing. As a child matures, include sexting and oversharing.

Understand how social media sites address cyberbullying or inappropriate conduct. Know the correct ways to report, block, or stop cruel digital activity to protect kids.

Utilize monitoring software that allows you access to deleted texts, web browser history, social media sites, and text messages. Teens are notorious for hiding their digital activity so it is essential to gain an accurate picture of how a child is behaving online.

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As our children age, they might act like they don’t need parental input. However, they still need our guidance to safely navigate the digital world as they are coming of age. Parents need to take these advancements as an invitation to teach digital safety. What is one thing your family does to ensure a child is protected online?


Author_Amy_2Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.