As suicide numbers rise, resources available for troubled teens

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Youth suicide rates are rising quickly. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that suicides among 5- to 18-year-olds rose almost 23 percent from 2010 to 2015 – the most recent year available in their report.

Plenty of those suicides have happened recently here in the Valley. Arizona's Family spoke with the family of a 15-year-old girl in the west Valley who took her own life Sunday. They held a vigil for her on Thursday.

"It's definitely broken us. It's like we're at a loss for words," said Danielle Medina, the sister of the suicide victim. 

"And we've cried so much that I don't think it's possible for us to cry anymore. There’s all of this ‘we could have, we should have,’ but we can’t do anything about it now. She never told us. She definitely killed a part of all of us when she took herself.”

Right now is especially a time that weighs heavily on teens. Finals, prom, or just transitioning to the unstructured summer schedule can all add up.

"The springtime is one of the most difficult and stressful times for kids," said Nikki Kontz, clinical director for Teen Lifeline.

The hotline gets fewer calls during summer break, but the calls they do get are from kids who are struggling a lot more – maybe even considering suicide.

"We’re getting calls from kids that (sic) are really having difficult situations, whether it be at home or with their own mental health or their own isolation," Kontz said.

Teen Lifeline is one of just six peer counseling hotlines in the country. That means anytime, a teenager calls to unload, they’ll be talking with someone close to their own age to help them with whatever’s on their mind (they're also supervised by master's level clinicians). Volunteers say the calls help them as much as it does the callers.

"You can see this piece of something that just happened in this call kind of resembles what my friend’s going through or what I’m going through," 15-year-old volunteer Alex said.

It’s possible that helping someone else is what could save your own life. There are summer training sessions available for teenagers interested in volunteering with Teen Lifeline.

There are also emergency crisis hotlines like EMPACT, which is also always available.

Parents can also call any of these numbers if they’re worried about their kids, no matter what time of year.

If you need help, call Teen Lifeline at 1-800-248-8336 (TEEN).

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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