Perhaps no one understands what a teenager in crisis is experiencing better than another teenager. That is why crisis listening line Caring Contact has introduced new training – Teens Helping Teens: Building Confidence and Awareness.

Caring Contact introduced the new training recently to a group of high school teens at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Scotch Plains. The youth are members of the church's Youth Ministry Program, which draws from nine area high schools.

Teens Helping Teens is a program targeted specifically at middle school and high school youth. The centerpiece of the program is a 1.5-hour training, “Suicide Awareness and Intervention.” The training provides a framework for understanding the problem of suicide, educates participants on the signs of emotional distress and suicidal ideation, and provides specific words and phrases to use to talk to a person about whom the teen is concerned.

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"At Caring contact we are committed to not only being there for callers in crisis but also reaching out to the community to provide training to adults and youth to help them recognize and deal with crisis, both theirs and in others," said Janet Sarkos, the hotline's executive director. "Teenagers understand each other so well and this training provides them with formalized tools to help others teenagers in crisis."

Jennifer Ryan, youth leader at St. Bartholomew, said: "The training provided education on recognizing persons at risk for suicide and how they can be helped. Again, this can only be beneficial."

The program was well received by the teenagers who participated, according to Ryan. Comments included:

  • "I learned to avoid sounding judgmental when speaking to someone who is struggling."
  • "I can now feel confident in knowing how to have a positive effect on someone who is struggling."
  • "Many of my friends are having trouble with their lives right now and this could benefit them."
  • "I can now understand my friend more and be able to help her."
  • "I feel that I am more capable of helping others in an emotional state and really having an impact on and possibly saving a life."

Teens Helping Teens is available to congregations, youth groups, Girl Scout and Boy Scout groups and any adult group working with youth. Anyone interested in learning more or scheduling training should contact Sarkos at 908.301.1899 or janet.sarkos@caringcontact.org.

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline and listening community, providing active listening support and best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. More than 100 trained volunteer listeners answered nearly 9,000 calls last year from people in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or simply feeling depressed and lonely.

If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call them at 908-232-2880.To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org. Anyone interested in volunteering may visit http://caringcontact.org/give-support/volunteer/. There are non-listening volunteering opportunities, as well.

Caring Contact serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey. Callers also reach Caring Contact by dialing 908-232-2880. Those preferring to seek supporting through texting may text “heart” to 741-741. The hotline also provides best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey Community.

Caring Contact attentively and compassionately serves those in emotional distress and educates the communities about the power of personal connection. They are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Association of Suicidology. If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call us at 908-232-2880.To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org