TeenScreen- A New Tool in Teen Suicide Prevention

Teen suicide is a serious matter.  We are bombarded in the news lately with stories and video of  teen bullying (cyber and other) as well as other forms of teen harassment.  Teens are feeling overwhelmed more than ever and I don’t blame them. It’s seems the stakes are getting higher as we are see an increase of teen suicides.  Many articles have told us that teens don’t tell their parents about the bullying that occurs (via Facebook, text, blogs, etc.) because they fear that their parents will take away their electronic devices such as phones and computers.  Clearly, the message that teens should talk to their parents about these issues isn’t fully solving the problem. We need other tools/options as well.

Teens need to be aware that other sources of information, help and support are out there.  Last weekend,  I went to a fund-raiser for Family Services of Marin and learned of a new tool in the prevention of teen suicide.  It’s called “TeenScreen” and was developed by Columbia University.  It’s the first screening of its kind that seems to identity the warning signals as all stage of distress, gives practical feedback/advice and has reduced teen suicide rates.  By administering this simple screening to teens, they can identify those on the “check list” as being in danger. Teens who have been given the screening were surprised to see just how accurate the readings were and some teens didn’t even realize that the issues they struggle with on a daily basis were “not common” and could lead to negative behaviours.  This is an amazing tool that’s inexpensive, practical and can easily be implemented by schools.

To learn more, go to:

TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups | Teen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Girl Talk

Seventy-five percent of teenage girls with self-esteem issues have reported engaging in negative activities such as smoking, drinking, bullying, cutting, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, and even suicide attempts. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s during the grammar school years that females perform equally well or even outperform males academically and at the same time, show signs of well-developed self-esteem. But, once a female enters puberty, her academic performance as well as over all self-esteem gradually declines in the high school setting. Through a series of interviews, my book will give teen girls the validation and understanding for why they feel the way they do. It will give them tools and resources to combat self-esteem issues and empower them to move forward. Through the RAISE (resilience, attitude, independence, self-respect, empowerment) system I have formulated, they will have the tools and resources to combat self-esteem issues and empower themselves to move forward. In addition, parents, teachers and counselors will gain more understanding and insight about the struggles of teenage girls by reading this book.

My book  offers a path to empowered self-esteem. This book will have a strong appeal among teen girls especially because they will be reading about what other teenage girls have to say. Peer to peer information is extremely powerful. This book will also cover background information on self-esteem, but will mainly focus on interviews with teens girls on the topic. We will dive into the factors which contribute to healthy self-esteem as well as those which affect low self-esteem and offer solutions.

Stay tuned……

The Subtle Faces of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure can come in many forms.  Some are subtle and some overt.  I think sometimes teens don’t see the subtle forms because they are too caught up in fitting in, being popular or being liked.

Peer pressure and bullying can intersect a lot of the time. It  can be your friends subtly making fun of you, laughing, putting you down & then saying, “just kidding.”  Remember, at the core of every statement there is some truth. It can also be your friends saying, “you’re no fun” because you don’t want to do something that feels dangerous. You should be free and comfortable to make those choices for yourself.

Rule of thumb, if someone asks you or tells you to do something over and over that you’re not interested in doing,  that’s peer pressure. If your friends make you feel uncomfortable for not going along with the crowd, for wanting to do something different, for trying something different….. that’s peer pressure. If your boyfriend tells you that you don’t care about him because you’re not interested or willing to do something for him or with him…. that’s peer pressure. If he withholds affection like a hug or smile because you don’t want to go somewhere with him….. that’s peer pressure. Any situation in which you are feeling uncomfortable, getting nervous or knots are forming in your stomach, that’s your body ‘s way of telling you something is wrong. Trust your instincts. We should never be forced into doing anything that makes us uncomfortable.  I wish I could say to all teens that peer pressure is only something that happens when you’re young, but unfortunately it’s not. Peer pressure can occur in adulthood as well; however, the way we handle those situations will tell people  how we demand to be treated. Respect yourself and other will respect you too. Those who don’t aren’t worth knowing.

Healthy relationships never require people to prove themselves in ways that are unsafe or uncomfortable. Healthy relationships fill us with comfort and ease. They make us feel safe and accept us for who we are. That is the sign of a true friend.