WESTFIELD– CONTACT We Care, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline, has announced the “Save our Youth” campaign designed to raise awareness about teen suicide and increase resources to help teenagers in crisis.
The campaign will be launched Thursday, March 22, with a kick-off event targeting parents, educators and community-based youth organizations. The event will take place at Primavera Regency in Stirling, 5:30-7:30 p.m., and is open to the public. Tickets are $55.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth aged 15-24 and the fourth leading cause of death for youth aged 10-14. In addition, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.
Each year approximately 5,000 young people aged 10-24 commit suicide. In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health believes as many as 25 suicides are attempted for each one that is completed. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19.3 percent of high school students have seriously considered suicide and 14.5 percent have made plans to kill themselves.
“We all read about the high-profile instances of a young person taking their life at a time of crisis – the Rutgers student or a young girl being humiliated on Facebook,” said Joanne Oppelt, CONTACT executive director. “Yet there are teenagers all around us who are experiencing pain and too often we do not see their conflict.
“Through this campaign we hope to literally save our youth. To do this we need to raise awareness among those who are closest to these young people – their parents, educators and those who work with them in youth organizations. We also hope to increase our ability at CONTACT We Care to be there for them when they call.”
CONTACT We Care is the only listening service for central and northern New Jersey. More than 100 trained volunteers staff the agency’s hotline and answer more than 11,000 calls per year.
The number of calls being received from youth is increasing at an alarming rate, according to Oppelt. To better serve this younger population, CONTACT is implementing technology that allows listeners to interact with them via texting, which is the communications means of choice for so many young people, Oppelt said.
“Yet we need to do more,” she said. “We need to recruit more listeners and broaden our ability to serve more young people in distress. This campaign will help us do that while helping those closest to them to learn more about this problem.”
According to Teen Suicide Statistics, factors that contribute to teen suicide include:
- School performance pressure
- Rejection by friends or peers
- Substance abuse
- Death of a loved one
- Suicide of someone they know
“In addition, bullying is a contributor to teen suicide,” Oppelt said. “Research shows that teenagers who are bullied or bully others have a higher risk of suicide than those not involved in bullying.”
According to Family First Aid, almost 30 percent of teens in the United States (or more than 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in school bullying as a bully, a target or both. Bullying includes physical, verbal and emotional bullying, as well as cyberbullying.
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center:
- Approximately 20 percent of students report experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetimes.
- The most common types of cyberbullying are hurtful comments (13.7 percent) and rumors spread online (12.9 percent).
- Adolescent girls are significantly more likely to have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes (25.8 percent vs. 16 percent).
“The pressures youth face today are so different than those faced by previous generations,” Oppelt said. “And while every generation experienced a generation gap perhaps at no time has that gap been so wide. We hope our Save Our Youth campaign will begin to close that gap.”
Those interested in attending the March 22 Save Our Youth kick-off campaign may contact CONTACT We Care at 1-908-301-1899 or visit www.contactwecare.org. Those interested in supporting the event through sponsorship or advertising may contact Leslie Patrizio at email@example.com or 1-908-451-3765.
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