Forum on helping teens is Sept. 16

By Nancy Gutierrez

A violence prevention fact sheet released by Physicians for Social Responsibility, reports that teens and elderly individuals are the most likely to attempt and commit suicide.

While suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the country, it is the third leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds. However, it is important to remember that suicide victims may come from any demographic group. There are many factors that lead the young and elderly to commit suicide. Adolescents face many challenges as they grow into adulthood. Peer, academic and family pressures mixed with physiological changes can create a mixture of feelings and anxieties that many teens do not know how to handle.

In an effort to provide help to families with struggling teens or to prepare the community for situations like this, Healthy Lindsay Healthy Kids will sponsor an informational round table called, "Creating a Caring Community, The rough years - how to help your teenagers survive and thrive."

The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Sept. 16 at the Presbyterian Church, 351 E. Hermosa St., and is put on by Synchrony, a non-profit organization that provides mental health services to families.

"They set up this round table to talk about mental health issues," Healthy Start Director Janie Elson said. "The panel members will talk about a variety of topics. First we will talk about data on the local level. We have statistics and information from a healthy kids survey on depression [given to local students]."

Topics that will be covered include: childhood and adolescent stressors, signs and symptoms of suicide and depression, barriers to treatment, developing resiliency in our youth and families, Heather's story and local resources. Elson said the event was named Creating a Caring Community because the information is important for everyone whether or not they know of a child in need of help.

"Interesting information that was discovered as suicides were looked into was that every child told someone. It could have even been another kid," Elson said. "We all need to equip ourselves on how to respond. Even if it is just recognizing the signs. It could save someone's life."

At the conclusion of the roundtable those present will be introduced to local resources available to everyone. Elson said representatives from Tulare County Youth Services, Healthy Start, Reconnecting Youth and National Association of Melkite Youth (NAMY) will participate as well as a Tulare County school psychologist, and the director of the Teen Zone Rich Rodriguez. A list of questions used by professionals to screen for depression will be available to take home.

Presenters discussing each of the topics include Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jose Ochoa, Marriage and Family Therapist Cheryl Lennon Armas, Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor Rand Gholson and Bev Anderson, a marriage and family therapist and founding member of Synchrony.

Participants will receive dinner at no cost and child care will be provided. Translators will also be available for Spanish speakers. For more information contact Healthy Start at 562-8292.

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