February 1, 2007
Troubled teens turn to Teen Line and its Leader
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Saving lives is what Leader believes she's doing, too, although there are constant reminders that others are slipping through the cracks. Leader is an expert on teen suicide. But for the most part she used the words of other teenagers to convey her message -- often reading from a collection of suicide notes, poems and essays she's collected over the years when she speaks to groups of teenagers.
"I don't know how many times I've read this poem, but every time I read it I feel sad," Leader says to a group of teenagers at one high school outreach program. "Behind every suicide is a loss, or perhaps loss upon loss upon loss."
After the sessions, the most visibly pained young people remain behind to speak privately with Leader. She puts her arms around them, talks quietly to them and steers them toward the school's guidance counselors who will check up on them in the days ahead.
"If you are feeling sad or hopeless, please reach out to someone," she tells the students. "Everyone deserves to feel that they are being heard."
The Teen Line call center is open daily, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., at (800) 852-8336, (310) 855-4673, or visit www.teenlineonline.org.
Karen Alexander is a freelance writer in Northern California. She was a Teen Line listener in the late 1980s.
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