Samantha Kaye cares about her fellow students at J.P. Taravella High School and wants to make a positive difference. She is vice president in the school’s DECA program and is one of three leaders in Here 2 Help which promotes the Crisis Text Line, a national non-profit organization that provides counseling to people facing severe crisis through text messages.
“This is a good thing. A lot of people don’t like to pick up the phone and they would rather communicate through text messages,” said Kaye.
A person facing a major mental health crisis that could even lead to suicide sends a text message to the Crisis Text Line. A trained volunteer handles the contact and may eventually refer to the person to a professional mental health professional or call a first responder. DECA recently held a presentation on the Here 2 Help program for about 800 students. DECA students also visited classrooms. Many of the students put the information the organization into their cell phones. Others said the Crisis Text Line effort was a good idea.
DECA has created about 35 plastic signs that will be placed around J.P.Taravella High School promoting the Crisis Text Line. DECA members are also developing a social media campaign to further promote the program. They are sharing the Crisis Text Line number through Twitter.
“We have discussed the program and we hope students who need it will use it. There are a lot of pressures in high school and many students have difficulty coping,” said Kevin Ward, vice president of marketing and a leader in Here 2 Help.
Spencer Gorelick, a vice president of finance and a leader of the project said he was pleased with how it is developing. “We received some interest from students. This will help people who are facing problems,” said Gorelick.
Jodianne Smith was also impressed with the program and believes it will help struggling young people. Members of the Coral Springs Fire Department and shown interest and want to volunteer as crisis counselors.
A guest speaker from the Coral Springs Fire Department came. Battalion Chief Stephanie Palmer gave a presentation on suicide prevention and encouraged students to seek help when they are facing a major life crisis. Palmer described the difficulty she has faced when dealing with a suicide situation and compared it to a “rock in her pocket, which is a weight that becomes heavier and heavier with each suicide.” She said, “The only way to lessen that burden is by talking about it, and Crisis Text Line and similar services can be great resources for doing just that.”
The J.P. Taravella DECA is working with the School Board of Broward County to look for ways that teens from other schools can benefit from learning about Crisis Text Line and its services. These services are free, confidential and can help a person in a crisis situation. As students gain more understanding of Crisis Text Line, they may use it themselves or encourage a friend or family member in crisis to use it. The goal is that more people will get the help they need and the bad outcomes that happen when people are facing significant difficulties will not occur.