It is no secret that the number of teens at risk of crisis or suicidal thoughts has been increasing for quite some time. With the invasive integration of technology and social media in daily life, it comes as no surprise that teens are more insecure, stressed, and at risk of mental illness and/or thoughts of self-harm than ever before. However, the number of local and national outlets hoping to aid these teens is also rising.
Organizations like YouthLine; a free and confidential 24-hour crisis, counseling, and referral line for youth; offer a outlet anywhere and at any time. “[YouthLine is] amazingly hopeful. That can sound a little odd when talking about a crisis line, but to know that the young folks that reach out to us have the strength and resilience and courage to reach out for support is absolutely amazing,” says Morgan Leets, YouthLine Operations Manager. YouthLine also provides outreach in classrooms, hoping to bring awareness and recognition to the stigma around reaching out for support regarding one’s mental health. “We encourage them to reach out, to let them know that there is a place, whether that place be a school counselor, sports coach, or knowing that there is a peer to peer line that is specifically for supporting teens,” says Leets. YouthLine’s peer to peer option is rather unique. Most adults’ experiences were very different, in some cases unrecognizable to those of today’s youth. That is why the peer-to-peer outlet exists.
The stigma around using crisis outlets is worse for those who identify as LGBTQ. That is why outlets like Brave Space create community and access for transgender and nonbinary children, youth, adults, and their families. Ryan Loiselle is one of five private practice clinicians offering one on one counseling in an intimate safe space. Brave Space is comprised of multiple private practice counselors and physical therapists. “This is about not doing it in a vacuum. When you are working with this target population, it is very specific care that we provide, so being able to speak with others about this care is very important,” says Loiselle. These clinicians are trained to aid transgender and nonbinary children and teens in all steps of their process. They are able to write letters of recommendation for youth seeking medical services, including hormone therapy, electrolysis, and aid in obtaining consultations for Sexual Reassignment Surgery. They also offer counseling for mental health, trauma, and assessments.
Along with the heavy stuff, Brave Space offers a clothing closet. “Want new digs? Get new digs! Our clothing closet is free to all transgender and non-binary folks, no matter if you’re a client or not. Even if you think you’re not in dire need, please feel free to shop! We have an area to try things on and bags for you to take home,” as they state on their homepage. They accept clothing donations as long as they meet the following requirements: Tops in all sizes, dresses and skirts in all sizes, binders, bra forms, wigs, accessories, makeup, “Femme” shoes in larger sizes, “Masc.” shoes in smaller sizes. And all are washed and free of stains, rips, or holes. Their goal with this clothing closet is to provide a fashionable and relevant wardrobe for those that can’t always afford them.
A national platform similar to YouthLine is the Trevor Project, a national hotline for LGBTQ youth in need of crisis intervention. They are available twenty-four hours a day. They offer specialized resources for LGBTQ youth from their support center on their website*, including one on one counseling over the phone, text, or online chat, and the Youth Ambassador Council (YAC). YAC is a group of ten people; chosen because they have demonstrated knowledge or leadership in preventing suicide, advocating for LGBTQ equality; sexual orientation, and gender identity, who act as liaisons between the public youth and The Trevor Project. YAC offers feedback to The Trevor Project in order to serve the LGBTQ youth.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. There are over 1.1 million annual attempts and over 44,000 suicide related deaths in the United States of America alone. “If you are struggling or even just having a stressful time, you deserve support. Asking for support is okay, and there is support out there. Any way someone can get support is absolutely amazing,” says Leets.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of suicide or committing self-harm, call or text 911.
- National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.273.8255 or text “Crisis Text Line” to 741741
- YouthLine Hotline: 877.968.8491 or text “teen2teen” to 839.863.
- The Trevor Project Hotline: 1.866.488.7386 or text “START” to 678.678
- *Website: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center
- Brave Space: 503.486.8936 for general inquiries.