Dwight Holton, chief executive at Lines for Life, a crisis call center, says teens who call the Oregon YouthLine usually want to talk about their day-to-day challenges like grades, bullies, and breakups. Journalist Catherine Cheney concludes that the reason teens prefer to speak with other teens about their struggles is the same as with any other group: the person they are talking to gets it. Suicide in young people is on the rise and is the 2nd leading cause of death for people ages 10-34. As researchers try to determine why, examining the role of social media in anxiety and depression, most experts are still left scratching their heads: what’s changed? Limited studies indicate that teens are better able to cope with the stresses of adolescence when they are around their friends than with their parents. Friends and crisis-line volunteers know what it’s like to be a teenager in 2019—the nuances, struggles, and the pressures they face—and are in a similar developmental stage where they may think more concretely. Teen volunteers listen, and instead of telling callers everything is going to be alright, they share their own challenges, commiserate, and relate. They provide a safe space to have conversations teens may not have with their friends but ones that only other teens may be entirely able to understand.
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