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Interview With Teens Suicide Hotline Organization: Teen Line

Teen suicide is a horrible for way for a family to loose a child, and unfortunately, it’s one of the most common ways of how teenagers pass away. I actually came across Teen Line on Dance Moms, and after that I was determined to interview them in order to spread the message and severeness of this matter. You never know how many lives you can save by just making a phone call to Suicide hotlines like Teen Line. Suicide and depression is a serious matter, so if you know anyone that might have suicide, seek help immediately.

Here is a link to Teen Line. If your friends or loved once need help, feel free to make a call and if you’re the one in crisis, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone for immediate assistance:

To seek help immediately:

Their Website:

How was the Teen Line founded? Why was it founded?

Teen Line started with this blog, written by Elaine Leader, PhD herself

Teen Line was developed by a group of mental health professionals, based on research indicating that teens regularly turn first to their peers when they are troubled. As a result, our hotline provides a non-judgmental space where teens can reach out for help from a peer. Teen Line was a pioneer in using peer counseling for adolescent problems.

Ultimate goal and mission of Teen Line?

Teen Line is a nonprofit, community-based organization supporting teenagers worldwide. It is our mission to provide personal teen-to-teen education and support before problems become a crisis, using a national hotline, digital technology and community outreach. We continually strive to help reduce the stigma around teen issues and work to get the conversation started to encourage teens to safely reach out for help.

How is Teen Line effective? How does Teen Line make a difference?

Our teen hotline volunteers are why we are able to help support thousands of distressed teens from all over the world every year. Over a hundred teens from all over Los Angeles volunteer at Teen Line annually. They complete a comprehensive 65-hour training program that focuses on the issues teens face, including relationships, anxiety/stress, self-injury, depression, rape, suicide, etc. They also learn to ‘actively listen’ — a simple act that can make a powerful, often life-saving difference. Our teen volunteers undergo rigorous training, adhere to strict requirements, and sacrifice social lives to help their peers in times of crisis. Teens in distress can either call, text message, or email our volunteers any evening between 6-10PM PST, offering them several ways to comfortably contact the hotline for help.

Volunteer adult mental health interns supervise and support the teens on the hotline. The Resource Associates gain invaluable experience working with teenagers in a training environment unlike any other. Participating as a Teen Line listener builds self-confidence and empathy and provides skills in problem solving, negotiation and crisis management, which helps the teen throughout their lives.

Does Teen Line have any support from other organization or governments?

We know that Teen Line can’t do it all, so we strongly believe in the power of partnerships and work closely with other community organizations and service providers to reach and support teens together. We do not receive government funding and rely on the generosity of donors and foundation support to continue to grow the reach of our programs. After our hotline volume doubled last year, we are aware there is an increased need for our services, so we have our work cut out for us!

Behind the scenes facts about Teen Line?

We currently have three teen listeners whose parents were listeners when they themselves were teens. Although we ditched the rotary phones and have adopted texting since then, the teen listeners are having the same impactful, life-changing experience as their parents once did.

Although we take what we do seriously, we also realize that we have to take care of ourselves to be equipped to help others. We regularly start a night on the hotline checking in with our listeners to see how they are feeling, followed up with some meditation or each person sharing a funny story about themselves. It’s difficult to be a hotline listener, so it is important to know when to take a break or share a laugh. It’s important that our teen listeners leave feeling good about the important work they do.

Most challenging obstacles Teen Line has faced or often face?

Suicide is surrounded by stigma, keeping people struggling in silence, despite nearly everyone being affected by it in some way. As a result, for many years, schools didn’t want suicide discussed in health education curriculum. It was based on the fear that such discussion would push students to start thinking about suicide as an option, when the reverse is actually true. The 2105 California Healthy Kids Survey demonstrated that 1:5 students are seriously considering suicide. Creating a safe, non-judgmental space to talk about suicide takes the pressure of the youth to keep their ‘secret’ and reduces any shame. California established a national precedent this year by passing AB2246, mandating California schools to adopt suicide prevention policies and work with community organizations, like Teen Line, to help develop them. We feel many lives will be saved as a result of this bill.

Is there anything you would improve with Teen Line?

Our goal this year was to expand our reach to more teens in underserved communities, where stigma is prevalent and resources are limited. Through September, thirty-one percent of our Outreach Programs are conducted in low socioeconomic communities whose youth have experienced high levels of trauma and/or difficult life events. We started at 6% in January and although it is a significant improvement, we are aiming to push this number even higher in the new year.

In addition to our Outreach Programs for youth, we launched a pilot program for parents of teenagers last year focused on suicide prevention, which was quickly adopted by community and faith based organizations. We were aware that there is a significant amount of resources and support for parents of children younger than 12, but very little for parents of teens. Research shows that 4 out of 5 teenagers show warning signs of suicide before they make an attempt. As a result, we developed a two part workshop that helped parents learn how to better communicate and understand their teen, as well as how to identify the signs of depression and risks for suicide. We are looking to expand the availability of this important resource next year in our communities.

Teen Line’s Community Outreach Program goes directly into schools and youth groups to reach out to tens of thousands of teens and educators each year. We offer our expertise to community groups, including the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Procedure Training School, where we have provided Teen Suicide Prevention Training since 1996. Teen Line publishes its own educational materials and maintains a database of nearly 500 agencies and programs providing critical services for young people. These resources are published in our Youth Yellow Pages directory, now available as a downloadable app. Our website continues to be a critical source of education and support for the 1.2 million people worldwide who visit our site annually. Most widely visited are our Message Boards, a supportive community of over 30,000 registered teens talking about topics that range from health and fitness to self-harm.

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