Connecting Arizona Youth to Hope
From 1986 to today, Teen Lifeline provides a safe, confidential, and crucial crisis intervention service for Arizona teens. Teen Lifeline’s work is towards its mission to prevent teen suicide in Arizona through enhancing resiliency in youth and fostering supportive communities. This happens through its peer-to-peer crisis hotline and suicide prevention education services for teens, educators, and parents. In 2020, the hotline had 34,800 calls and texts, 29% over 2019.
The hotline provides a safe way for teens to talk to other teens about thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety, grades, and friend/family issues. Volunteers are truly a connection of hope to troubled teens who reach out as a last resort, or just to talk to someone who listens and cares.
On average, one out of every three calls and texts is from a teen considering suicide.
For 87% of all calls, callers report a positive outcome indicating their problems are now manageable as a result of talking to a teen peer counselor. And 95% of callers report that they feel better because of the call and are more hopeful for the future.
The hotline is answered 24/7/365. Trained, volunteer peer counselors ages 15-19 answer calls and texts for help from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline is answered before 3 p.m. and after 9 p.m. by the Crisis Response Network. Starting April 2020, texting hours were increased on weekdays from noon to 9 p.m. for teens learning remotely.
Teen Lifeline peer counselors have been answering calls from troubled teens since 1986. It is the only peer-to-peer crisis hotline in Arizona and was the first in the nation to receive Crisis Center Accreditation from the American Association of Suicidology.
More than 80% of all calls have a positive outcome where callers report their problem is now manageable as a result of talking to a teen peer counselor. Most callers also report that they feel better because of the call and are more hopeful for the future.
Each teen volunteer receives a minimum of 72 hours of intensive life skills development training before beginning to work the hotline. This training often influences peer counselors’ choices and career goals. Teen volunteers demonstrate their experience through their interactions with others at home, at school, and eventually the workforce. On average, peer counselors volunteer 3.5 years at Teen Lifeline.
While a minimum of 15 hours of service per month is required, many of the volunteers far exceed that measure. As essential workers during the pandemic 78 teens donated more than 19,000 hours of service at Teen Lifeline in 2020!
As an all-around service, Teen Lifeline further works to prevent youth suicide by fostering supportive communities. This starts with prevention education, following a three-prong approach:
1. Life-saving prevention classroom workshops statewide for students in grades 6-12 at no cost to schools. These presentations encourage:
- Cultivating healthy coping skills
- Building communities
- Promoting help-seeking behaviors
- Identifying warning signs
2. Education programs for school personnel working with students in grades 6-12 to meet the recently enacted Arizona mandate for educator and support staff training regarding suicide prevention. These programs are provided free to schools, enabling educators a way to comply with Arizona law at no additional cost.
3. Youth suicide awareness and prevention training for parents, professional and civic organizations, employers, and the community. It only takes one person to save a life. Teen Lifeline prevention staff work to make sure training is widely available.