In the latest edition of The Thunderbirds’ “In the Community Conversations”, 2021 Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins held a virtual discussion with Nikki Kontz, Clinical Director of Teen Lifeline. The two leaders discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and identify how the community can continue the fight against teen suicide and provide hope to suffering young people throughout the Valley of the Sun.
“Teen Lifeline is probably best known for our crisis hotline services,” said Kontz. “What we do is we take calls and texts from kids and teenagers that are struggling, give them a place to talk – to open up – with no judgment, a place where they are listened to and heard and feel like they can make a connection to hope.”
Kontz stated the uncertainty caused by the current health crisis has led to an increase in calls and significant challenges with their operating procedures.
“We’re seeing an increase of calls and text messages from kids who are struggling,” said Kontz. “This feeling is exacerbated [by COVID-19] by a feeling of not being able to escape. There’s a certain amount of activity they can do, but they can’t do that in the confines of school where there was that protection. So many kids don’t have access to parks or don’t have the ability to take a walk around their neighborhood or have that interaction they normally get at school.”
Training and certification during the national health crisis also has presented unique challenges Teen Lifeline must overcome in order to serve the community.
“We do a lot of community education about suicide prevention,” said Kontz. “How to identify someone who might be at risk for suicide, what to do, and how to connect to them. We do that in the classrooms with kids, but [since COVID-19] we were approved to be the pilot study to convert in-person training to a cirtual training. So we’re able to convert that program and make sure people are safe and connected in their communities.
How you can help Teen Lifeline right now:
“The things we need most right now to help us to keep our doors open is to really support our volunteers,” said Kontz. “Anything from food donations to things that help with the constant cleaning schedule like disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes. And we do have an Amazon wishlist and people can connect through that.”
Learn more about Teen Lifeline by visiting their website: https://teenlifeline.org/
Teen Lifeline crisis hotline – 800-248-8336