An Ahwatukee teen is completing her project for her Girl Scout Gold Award by trying to save the lives of despondent young people who are contemplating suicide.
Kaylin Smith, a senior at Mountain Pointe High School, is handing out bracelets and literature – and developing a special dance – for a project she calls “Break the Silence.”
Kaylin, the 17-year-old daughter of Rebecca and Patrick Smith, has been in Girl Scouts for 13 years.
She is focusing on a problem that has reached critical mass in the region and across Arizona. More than a dozen teens have taken their lives in the East Valley since July and suicide is the second major cause of death among young people in the state for two consecutive years already.
“I decided to do my project on teen suicide because I felt that there was a lack of awareness regarding the subject,” she said. “I feel that it is regarded as taboo and that not many people are willing to start a conversation about it.”
Kaylin has been working on the project for two years, dividing it into two separate tracks.
On the one hand, she took money she earned by selling Girl Scout cookies to buy special bracelets that carry the words “Break the Silence” and the number for the national suicide hotline.
She also made information cards that have the numbers for Teen Lifeline, an organization that offers peer-to-peer counseling for teens contemplating suicide, as well as list the signs of potentially suicidal people.
“I believe that we need to start a real conversation about teen suicide,” she said. “I had a psychologist help me with the research so that I could be well-versed in the topic.”
She also developed a dance that that her grandmother helped her to choreograph.
“I drew inspiration from the fact that I love to dance and that a story can be told through dance.” she said. “I decided that I would tell the story of an average high school girl who is contemplating suicide.