Arizona high school athletes raising awareness for suicide prevention month

High school athletes throughout Arizona created the Teen Lifeline PSA series to spread the word on suicide prevention.
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 9:12 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- High school football players in Arizona are working to help prevent teen suicide in a unique way. The goal is to provide hope to other teenagers who may be struggling through a public service announcement video series.

Nineteen football players and one cheerleader from 18 Arizona high schools are starring in this video series. It comes during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month but also at a time when calls for help are increasing by the day here in Arizona.

High school teen athletes want their peers to know there is help if they are struggling with depression, anxiety or thoughts of suicide. “Especially my age, with social media going around, there’s a lot of negative impact in the world and I come across it almost every day with my friends,” said Deshawn Warner, a 16-year-old football player at Desert Edge High School.

“From society itself it’s a lot of pressure on young teens and some people deal with the pressure differently,” added Kaleb Carter, a 17-year-old football player at Desert Edge High School.

Carter and Warner are part of the movement organized by Teen Lifeline and the Grand Canyon State Gridiron club. “It can literally be the classmate sitting next to you that smiles and laughs all day, and you’d never know,” Carter said.

Teens are reaching out for help a record amount statewide. The Teen Lifeline Suicide Prevention Hotline took over 22,000 calls and 20,000 text messages from young Arizonans in 2021. That’s more than double compared to 2019. Most of those calls came from kids and teens between 10 and 19 years old. “Even if it’s just grabbing food, we can grab something and talk and have a chance to take a deep breath and relax,” Carter said.

These athletes hope to spark change by opening the conversation and creating a safe space, whether that’s for kids on their campus or people they’ve never even met. “Even if you feel you don’t need to help, just having someone in your corner is always something that is comforting,” Carter said.

“I want to be a big impact in people’s lives not just for the month but for a long time,” Warner said.

The teams involved in this PSA will also be wearing teen lifeline stickers on their football helmets this month. If you need help or know someone struggling, click here for resources.