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Suicide Prevention Program Serves as National Model

Suicide Prevention Program Serves as National Model
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By    |   Monday, 21 August 2017 12:22 PM

Michelle Carter, a 17-year-old girl who encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide through text messages, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in June.

Unfortunately, Carter’s actions — persuading her 18-year-old boyfriend Conrad Roy III to take his own life through a series of texts and phone calls — were not altogether unique.

In 2006, an angry mother created a fake Myspace account to talk with teenager Megan Meier, who she believed was spreading rumors about her daughter online. Lori Drew, the angry mother who created the account, posed as a young man and encouraged Meier to kill herself. She did.

So what can be done to stop suicide from cyberbullying? School officials in Broward County, Florida, think they may have the answer. The county has adopted the “Crisis Text line” as an intervention service in Broward for middle and high school students. It is already gaining attention as a national model.

“The inspiration for Crisis Text Line was a text received by staffers at DoSomething.org, the largest organization for young people in the country,” Jared Wolf, Media Manager for the Crisis Text Line tells Newsmax Health.

“DoSomething.org interacts with its members via text message, and it eventually started receiving deeply personal responses from young people who didn't know where else to turn. After one particularly troubling series of texts from someone who said they were being raped by their father, DoSomething.org CEO Nancy Lublin decided to found Crisis Text Line in order to give people in crisis a place to text for support.”

In just over four years, the hotline has processed over 45 million text messages. The hotline is a free, 24-hour support for those in crisis. You can text 741741 from anywhere in the US and start texting with a trained crisis counselor. The hotline’s mission is to take the texter from a “hot moment to a cool calm.”

The goal of the program — says Nancy Lublin, founder and CEO of the Crisis Text Line — is to “make it as easy as possible for people who are in pain to get help.”

Wolf adds: “It only took four months to reach every area code in the country. So we've quickly learned that reaching people in need via a medium they're already using — text message — is a powerful way to increase access.”

Wolf says the Crisis Hotline launched its School Toolkit about a week ago as a way to help schools get started in presenting Crisis Text Line as a resource. He says it has been downloaded by students, parents, administrators, faculty, and staff in almost 300 schools.

Wolf says the organization also has partnerships with about a dozen colleges and is starting to pursue similar relationships with K-12 districts.

“It's up to us as an organization to ensure that every person in pain knows we're here to support them: that help exists and that seeking it is the right thing we do. One powerful way we do this is partnerships with social media companies that put our information directly in front of people who are posting and searching in ways that indicate that they might be at risk,” Wolf tells Newsmax Health.

James Simmons, a marketing teacher at Taravella High School in Coral Springs Fla., and a DECAchapter advisor who helps administer the program there, explains that suicide prevention is only one aspect of the CTL.

"What is most exciting is having an intervention available for all of those teen stress and anxiety factors that can lead to suicide," he says. "By taking teens from a hot moment to a cool one, students will be more able to handle these events, feel better about going to school, have a better attitude, and so, have more success at school.

"We believe the best step to put the service in the hands of students is through the use of the student ID cards. They have them at school and at home, when school, relationship, and social media issues can occur."

Mental health experts note that depression and anxiety are common among teenagers and can increase the risk for suicide. Warning signs of suicidal ideation may include:

  • Excessive sadness or moodiness, mood swings and unexpected rage
  • Feelings of hopelessness about the future with the belief that one’s circumstances will never improve
  • Sleep problems
  • Suddenly becoming calm after a period of intense depression
  • Withdrawal: Choosing to be alone coupled with a loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Dangerous behaviors, such as reckless driving, unsafe sex, drug use, excessive alcohol use
  • Threatening suicide: About 50 percent to 75 percent of people considering suicide will give someone close to them a warning sign.

If you believe someone you know is in immediate danger of killing themselves do not leave that person alone. Try to keep the person as calm as possible, while asking them if they have any weapons. Call 9-1-1 or take them to the emergency room.

You can also refer them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number: 800-273-8255.

© 2019 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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The case of Michelle Carter, who was convicted of manslaughter after urging her boyfriend to commit suicide through text messages, has spotlighted the dangers of bullying and suicide. But a new program in South Florida is gaining attention as a national suicide-prevention model.
suicide, prevention, hotline, national, model, crisis, text, line
Monday, 21 August 2017 12:22 PM
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