We talk to our children about stranger danger and just say no to drugs, but what conversation have you had with your child about who to call when they feel alone in the world?
When they believe the best answer is to no longer be here. No one wants to believe their child, niece, nephew, grandchild or anyone they love would ever consider taking their own life.
Sadly, the number of kids committing suicide is on the rise. From 2007-15 alone, suicide rates doubled among teen girls (5 out of 100,000) and by more than 30 percent among teen boys (14 out of 100,000).
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Arizona children and teens.
The lives of teenagers today are as complex as ever. Growing up is complicated and at times difficult and confusing. Homework, sports, extra-curricular activities and the opposite sex have always been a mainstay in the lives of middle and high school students.
However, today’s world seems to up the ante when it comes to rigorous academic demands coupled with endless hours of practice and participation in the teens chosen area of interest. And let’s not forget about technology.
As parents, we don’t always know how to stay in tune with the world our kids are navigating.
We can also find it difficult to recognize the difference between typical growing up problems and those that are more serious. Often times we get the cold shoulder when we ask if everything is okay.
Knowing this, it is our job as parents to help our kids identify people they can turn to for support when they might not turn us. Without setting up these connections for our teen, they may turn to someone or something that is destructive.
Research shows that most teens will turn to their peers before turning to an adult.
This is where Teen Lifeline comes in.
Teen Lifeline is a local nonprofit whose purpose is to impact the devastating problem of teen suicide so that any teen, at any time, will have knowledge of and access to Teen Lifeline, its counselors and services.
The organization provides a safe, confidential and crucial service where teens help teens make healthy decisions together. They offer a peer-to-peer hotline for teens struggling with bullying, dating and family relationships, sexuality and pregnancy, life skills, depression, self-injury and suicide.
The peer counselors are not there to judge or to laugh, criticize or punish. They are just there to listen and to help find a solution to whatever is happening in the teen’s life.
Teens can talk to someone their own age who understands what they are going through because they have gone through it too. This is not an advice hotline; it is a place where teens can help empower other teens to help themselves.
Teens may call or text 602-248-TEEN for help.
The cost to provide help and hope to one teen caller who is considering suicide is $250.
Sunnev Terrell and Heidi Clayton, members of 100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun, secured an $11,500 donation that will be used to train more teens on the hotline.
Terrell and Clayton’s support for the charity runs deep as they are both raising teenage girls.
"As a mother of a teenager, I understand the importance of communication and the daily struggles a teenager faces. To raise a teenager in today's world takes a village and Teen Lifeline is a vital part of that village,” Clayton said, adding:
Having an outlet for a teenager to be heard and listened too by their peers in times of need is a reassuring feeling as a parent.”
100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun is a philanthropic group of women committed to supporting local charitable organizations who are making a big impact in their community.
It is through their members, like Terrell and Clayton, they learn about nonprofits like Teen Lifeline. In the past three years, the members of the 100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun have donated over $205,000 to local charities.
Their next meeting in Ahwatukee is at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Foothills Golf Club. Guests are welcome.