By Jamie Leary
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A group of El Paso County teens are being honored for their efforts to bring new attention to suicide through a 24/7 crisis line.
“The awesome thing about it is that it’s not purely a suicide hotline or it’s not purely for something specific it’s for any crisis, anything in your life that you’re having difficulty coping with. Whether it’s something big that has to do with depression or something like, ‘I failed my math test today and I don’t know what I’m going to do.’” said Emma Weien, a junior at Discovery Canyon Campus in Colorado Springs.
Nine students from across the El Paso County School District formed an advisory panel to help bring the state’s crisis text line to students. With a little branding help from a local company, Design Rangers, the students came up with a campaign called “Below the Surface”.
The students launched the campaign into 9 schools across the county and say that they have seen a positive response among their classmates. They credit the campaigns early success to the adults who listened.
“In my opinion, what has changed is people are more willing to listen to us. They’re more willing to take what we have to say at face value and not just push it off because we are younger.” said Chad Hawthorne, also a junior at Discovery Canyon.
Both Hawthorne and Weien serve on the teen advisory panel and say that suicide has been hard to talk about among friends; they hope the text line changes that.
“It hits very close to home for us we had 4 students at the end of our freshman year in 2015 who we lost to suicide in a span of 2 weeks.” said Emma.
Hawthorne and Weien’s school district unfortunately had more than four suicides in 2015. There were 15 suicides that year and more in the years to follow. In school, Weien said that everyone knows someone who has taken their life.
“I have kind of made it my own personal mission to remind people of that on a daily basis, and I think that this crisis text line is incredible because it has the ability to help people remember that. It has the ability to help people cope through whatever it is that makes them think that they aren’t valuable.” said Weien.
On Thursday night, Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, honored the teens for their work and upon receiving the award; the students thanked the adults for listening.
“My hope for this is that it allows our generation to understand that it’s okay to feel things and it’s okay to validate your feelings and it’s okay to talk about it.” said Weien.
If you would like to support the student’s campaign and Colorado Crisis Services in general, click here.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.