1 out of 5 teens in the US seriously consider suicide each year.
In 2014, 2.8 million teens suffered at least one depressive episode. Becoming overwhelmed and unable to cope with life stress has been linked to depression. 30% of teens with depression also develop a substance abuse problem. In addition, depression has been linked to risky sexual behavior, school drop-out and academic concerns, unhealthy relationships and behavior at work, and makes a teen 12 times more likely to commit suicide.
Ok, but those are broad statistics for the entire country. How much does that really affect us?
Here in Manistee, teens shared what they see as their top 5 struggles on the Youth Needs Survey:
- Drug Use
- Academic Stress
- Self Esteem
- Alcohol Use
Teens today are facing very real, very adult challenges: from substance abuse to sexual pressure and unhealthy relationships, from cyberbullying to mental health. They are juggling stress of their home lives, of academic expectations, of social pressure, all on little sleep and often little to no support system.
Teens are carrying great burdens long before they have learned how to cope with stress. Most of us take years to develop healthy habits in dealing with stress, and even then struggle. Teens haven’t had that opportunity. They are thrown into adult-level problems without support systems or knowledge of coping mechanisms.
They feel alone. Overwhelmed. Confused. Scared.
What adults sometimes fail to realize is that there is nothing wrong with our teens. They do not need to be fixed or lectured on appropriate behavior. They need to be empowered.
Empower: to enable, to equip; to make someone stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life.
The purpose of Armory Youth Project is to empower teens.
To meet them right where they are, to listen and engage them. To help teens identify their struggles and provide the resources and supports needed to overcome. To be an alternative option for hanging out instead of parties or unsafe environments. To model healthy relationships and interactions with adults and peers. To get to know teens through real relationship building and genuine caring.
AYP is using data-driven strategies based on best practices from current research. For example, in Iceland, the percentage of teen alcohol abuse dropped from 42% in 1998 to 5% in 2016. Teen smoking plummeted from 23% to 3%. How did they do it? They provided recreation. Free programs and places for teens to hang out and have fun with friends. Opportunities for engagement with safe adults, and supports for mental health and academics.
Armory Youth Project is so close to opening, so close to providing the real, relevant services this community needs for our teens. But something is missing:
The #GiveUs5 campaign isn’t your ordinary fundraiser. It is an opportunity to join an amazing team with an incredible purpose. With so many roles and pieces to fill, there is a place for everyone to make a real difference. Regardless of age, income, availability, strengths, weaknesses, we all have a part to play in opening our doors.
Why #GiveUs5 ?
Because 5 people makes a dodgeball team to connect with an insecure middle-schooler.
Because 5 minutes of conversation makes a high-schooler feel heard for the first time in a long time.
Because 5 dollars provides basic school supplies and a snack for a student struggling with homework.
Because every hour that volunteers commit is another hour to remain open for teens. And every donation funds programs that support them.
Because it has never been about the 5, it has been about our teens, our community.
Our teens deserve to feel loved. They deserve to have support systems they know they can trust. A place that they know they can go to have fun without unsafe pressures. A place to learn how to manage stress and overcome challenges.
And in raising up a new generation of leaders, our community will be a stronger, brighter place.
Let’s be a community that beats the odds. In the face of a statistic that tells us that 1 out of 5 teens we know has thought seriously of suicide, let us give 5 to empower them.
Take the quiz to see the incredible impact even just 5 seconds can make. Join the team. #GiveUs5