Meet Alondra Torres, Daisy Fonseca, Valerie Villarrea, and Shirley Ortega, all teens at Canutillo High School.
“We’re all made differently,” said Daisy Fonseca.
But they all share one thing in common that brings back pain.
“We all experienced bullying in a certain way,” said Fonseca.
The four teens said it’s a reality for so many teens, on and off school campuses, in communities, and beyond.
That’s why they’ve tasked themselves with tackling it head-on, with a special presentation.
“Our presentation is about bullying and things we can do to stop and prevent it,” said Fonseca. “It’s important because people think they’re alone in this.”
Solitude that in some cases can lead to the worst case scenario — suicide — which has been on the community’s mind ever since 14-year-old Devin Kelley, a Pebble Hills High School student, took his own life.
“We can see that there’s a rise in teen suicides for a number of reasons. We’ve seen that statistically, the more common they are, it becomes almost contagious within that culture. So it can inspire some teens,” said Celeste Nevarez, a Licensed Professional Counselor at Emergence Health Network.
The Network offers a 24/7 crisis hotline. Nevarez said social media is also behind the rise.
“Internet bullying, cyber bullying, all of those things have also spiked within the last decade,” said Nevarez.
But Nevarez said suicide is preventable, with vigilance.
“What I hear a lot from parents is, I have a moody teenager. Yes. Maybe true. But if there’s a major shift in their mood, in mood, or behavior, or people spending time with,” she said. “If it’s out of their norm, you want to reach out to them and ask. What’s going on?”
That very conversation is what Nevarez said could in the end, save a life, something she knows from her own experience.
“I know it’s tough to talk about suicide to teenagers — I know my family didn’t,” she said. “It’s considered taboo. So parents who are nervous or uncomfortable, just start with how are you feeling.”