YouthLine, SafeOregon aim to break stigma and create healthy conversation

YouthLine

For 5 hours a day, dozens of teenagers pack into a room and take calls from their peers who are undergoing a crisis and just need someone to talk to.

YouthLine, a confidential resource for teenagers, is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day. It can be reached at 877-968-8491, and there are texting, chatting and email services available as well.

The organization started three years ago with just 12 volunteers.

"Currently we have 85 volunteers, and we are taking upwards of 50 contacts every night," Lines For Life Outreach Coordinator Melissa Trombetta said.

YouthLine is staffed completely by teenagers, who undergo a 50-hour training.

"I talked to a really young person, I think they were about 12 years old. They were just in a very dark place," 19-year-old lead volunteer Hanna Lilly said. "The entire half hour long phone call that we shared together was them just being like, 'I'm so afraid, I want to die, I don't know what to do anymore.'"

According to the CDC, there's no proof bullying causes suicide, but youth who do report being bullied are highly likely to report suicidal behavior as well.

YouthLine is a place where kids can comfortably open up knowing they won't be judged.

"I think because if you're going to talk about it with your parents they may not understand just because of you know generational differences," 17-year-old Sunset High School student Molly Benjamin said.

SafeOregon is a another resource peers or adults can use either online or on their phones to report a threat to student safety.

Oregon State Police staff quickly review the tips and intervene with either school or law enforcement officials.

Just last year, a concerned friend used it to save someone's life.

"Hermiston Police Department was notified of tip, they went to the house, they found the student in a medical distress, unconscious and not breathing, they were able to perform life saving procedures and the student's alive today," Cap. Tim Fox with Oregon State Police said.

The latest quarterly data shows 135 of 381 tips were about bullying or harassment. Twenty-eight came from people worried someone was going to take their life.

It's all about breaking the code of silence.

"Well, I think there's so many things, especially now, that don't really get talked about," said 17-year-old West Linn High School student Riley Murphy.

To report a safety threat, email tip@safeoregon.com or call or text 844-472-3367.

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