West Valley View - Zone 1 - 9.22.2021

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WEST VALLEY VIEW NEWS | SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

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Gridiron stars helping to prevent suicides BY TYLER BUDGE

West Valley View Staff Writer

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igh School football players across Arizona are working with Teen Lifeline and the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club to produce a series of PSAs during Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This month, 15 players from 12 schools star in public service announcements that are designed to provide a unified message to teens who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Desert Edge High School football player Adryan Lara was one of the athletes who volunteered. “I feel like now, especially in this new generation, a bunch of stuff is go-

ing on and some kids are not able to handle it. They need someone to help them through these times that they’re going through,” Lara said. Teen Lifeline is an Arizona-based nonprofit with a focus on giving teens a safe space to talk about their depression and anxiety. Lifeline Clinical Director Nikki Kontz hopes these videos will have a significant impact on the students who watch them. “Our high school football players are seen as the heroes or seen as the people that bad things don’t happen to,” Kontz said. “The fact is they’re struggling with the same things that every other kid is, and this is a way for them to bring awareness to everyone.” Teen Lifeline received nearly 35,000

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Desert Edge High School football player Adryan Lara was one of 15 players to volunteer to participate in a series of PSAs during Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in partnership with Arizona nonprofit Teen Lifeline. (Photo courtesy of Adryan Lara)

calls and texts to its suicide prevention hotline in 2020, with the majority coming from Arizona adolescents ages 10 to 19. “One of my biggest goals in life is just to help people and let them know that there’s always somebody you can lean on. And if it’s not me, there’s someone else, and I just want people to know that,” Lara said. The public service announcements will air throughout September on the participating school’s social media channels and during morning announcements on campus.

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“Collaborations with organizations like Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club and high school athletes are critical in spreading the message that there is hope and help available to teens who need it,” said Michelle Moorhead, Teen Lifeline executive director, in a statement. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the 30-year-old Teen Lifeline has received the most number of calls and texts from teens. “We can see it (awareness) even on

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