SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Sarasota County School District is offering students the mental health help they need in a way they feel more comfortable getting it by texting.
Consider this: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people between 10-18 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Here in Sarasota County, 200 students have considered harming themselves,” says John Annis with the Barancik Foundation.
It's 279 students to be exact, but Annis says even one is too many.
“We continue to hear from our non-profit partners that mental health is the #1 issue affect our community," Annis said.
That’s why the foundation paid for plaques to go up in bathrooms at middle schools and high schools in Sarasota County, with a number to the Crisis Text Line: "HERE4U" to 741741.
“That’s the first call for help," Annis said. "Students will text, it’s not threatening a quick back and forth for some that’s fine… someone there for me immediately by a trained professional,” says John.
Carlos Mondragon, a senior at Sarasota High School, says students have a long list of problems. He says, “Family situation, school work friend, rumors, gossiping.”
Mondragon says texting is a good way for students to get help, “since it can be anonymous they can be more honest."
The Crisis Text Line started in 2013 and has taken 87 million texts since, cataloging each. Each community has a tag, Sarasota’s is "HEAR4U." Nationwide the data shows most texts are on Mondays and after 10 p.m. is when most texts are sent.
Topping the list of issues include problem relationships and then depression/sadness, followed by suicide. The district will use similar data to customize students’ needs.
“We want to nail down what’s going to move the needle how we can have an impact not just apply a band-aid to different issues,” Annis said.
The Barancik Foundation will use the Crisis Text Line data to help come up with a Mental Health Scan for Sarasota County. This will show what areas the community needs to provide more mental health resources.
The report comes out in February.
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