High school football player Will Curtis, from American Leadership Academy in Queen Creek, was one of 20 players throughout Arizona selected to help prevent teen suicide by starring in a series of video public service announcements (PSAs) designed to provide messages of hope to fellow teens.
The campaign was in recognition of Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September on player, team and school social media channels in Arizona. Nineteen football players and one cheerleader representing 18 Arizona high schools in the Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma areas starred in a series of professionally-produced video public service announcements (PSAs) organized by Teen Lifeline and the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club (GCSGC).
The PSA campaign is designed to provide messages of hope to fellow teens who may be struggling with depression, anxiety or thoughts of suicide. The messages let teens know they are not alone and encourage them to seek help if they feel depressed or suicidal.
“It would be difficult to overstate the importance of peer-to-peer connection for teens in every Arizona community,” said Nikki Kontz, Teen Lifeline clinical director. “Our teens are looking for validation. They need to hear from other teens that what they may be feeling is normal, that there is always hope and that help is available 24/7/365.”
Teens are reaching out for help in record numbers statewide.
The Teen Lifeline suicide prevention hotline received more than 22,000 calls and 20,000 text messages from troubled youths throughout Arizona in 2021. That’s a nearly 50% increase compared to 2019. Most of those calls and texts came from Arizona adolescents ages 10-19.
Teen Lifeline works closely with schools throughout Arizona to provide suicide prevention services. Staff from the nonprofit organization will provide suicide prevention programming to students in 44 schools during the month of September alone.
During the 2022-23 school year, more than 419 Arizona middle schools and high schools, with a combined enrollment of more than 500,000 students, will print the Teen Lifeline phone number on the back of their student IDs.
Teens who are struggling to feel hope in their lives are encouraged to call Teen Lifeline any day or time at 602-248-TEEN (8336) or 800-248-TEEN. Teens can also text with a teen peer counselor at 602-248-8336 between noon and 9 p.m. on weekdays and 3 to 9 p.m. on weekends.
The 24-hour hotline is staffed by teen peer counselors from 3 to 9 p.m. daily. Trained, professional counselors are available at all other times.