A simple ‘hello’ could save a life

Campaign encourages proactive phone call or text to a teen possibly in jeopardy

By Jessica Gonzalez — Special to Wrangler News

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A simple check-in on Thursday, April 25. could have potentially lifesaving results. Has there
ever been a better reason to use your phone than to make such a call? Teen Lifeline staff and volunteers are urging every Tempe and West Chandler resident to use what is perhaps the most fundamental accessory they own to be proactive on National Telephone
Day, Thursday, April 25 – by calling or texting a teen in their life, especially one who might be facing worrisome personal issues, to check in, say hello and let them know you care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, strong, positive relationships with others can
be protective and prevent suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Such protective relationships can be especially important this time of year, as research indicates
the number of suicides rises during the spring months. The Teen Lifeline crisis hotline, staffed by volunteer teen peer counselors, handles a 10% increase in calls from teens in crisis each year between spring break and the end of the school year.

“Whether it’s finals, graduation or friends moving on or moving away, the end of the school year is more stressful for our teens than we realize,” says Nikki Kontz, clinical director at
Teen Lifeline. “Please use your phone for its best possible purpose on April 25th and throughout the next two months to check in with a teen and see how they are doing.

“It could save a life.”

It’s important for teenagers to know that the adults in their lives care about them, Kontz says, yet she also urges teens to reach out to other teens on National Telephone Day.
“It’s all about making someone feel like they’re cared about,” she adds.

In 2023, Teen Lifeline received nearly 48,000 calls and text messages from teens in crisis—a 10.6% increase from call volumes in 2022. Of those, nearly 16,000 calls and texts were from a teen experiencing thoughts of suicide, say Lifeline staff. In addition to its use as the ubiquitous tool teens use to stay in touch with their friends, the device, Kontz explains, can be an important relationship building tool for parents, caregivers, and family members.

“Some teens who are nervous about opening up in person will be more likely to share their feelings through text messages, especially when they are struggling with something,” says Kontz. Sending memes, gifs or articles that align with a teen’s interests is another way to use a cell phone to uplift, encourage and maintain a relationship. On National Telephone Day, Kontz recommends reaching out with simple messages, which could include such remarks as:

• Just checking in. How are you doing?
• Thinking about you today – how’s it going?
• Doing OK at school?
• Feeling good about finals or do you need
some support?
• Haven’t talked in a while and wanted to say hi!
• I hope you’re having a great week!
• I miss you, let’s make plans to see each other
• I love you! How are you today?

Watch for warning signs during the spring, and year-round, adults are encouraged to pay attention to common warning signs a teen may be considering suicide. These can include:

• Talking about death, wanting to die or feelings
of falling apart
• Changes in sleeping or eating habits
• Feeling depressed, sad or hopeless for more
than two weeks
• Extreme mood swings
• Isolating or withdrawing from friends, family
or usual social activities
• Drastic changes in usual behavior

Adults who suspect a teen may be having thoughts of suicide should ask the teen about it
directly. Asking the question will not plant the idea of suicide in a teenager’s head and it can give them permission to speak freely, says Kontz. If a teen replies that they have been thinking about suicide, Kontz recommends thanking them for their honesty and then asking questions about how they’ve been feeling and why. If the teen is not in immediate danger, create a plan to get help by calling Teen Lifeline or seeking a referral to mental health services or counseling. While waiting for services, be sure to minimize suicide risks by locking up all medications, sharp objects and poisonous chemicals and securing all
firearms, including storing ammunition separately.

For more information, visit TeenLifeline.org. Steps to take in case of immediate concern:
• Call 911 for emergency services.
• Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
• Call or text 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Support is also available via live chat. Para ayuda en español, llame al 988.



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