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Student-athletes promote mental health resources

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 13:44:21-04

PHOENIX — Arizona student-athletes came together Friday to record a series of public service announcements urging teens to reach out for help if they're feeling depressed.

The PSAs are a partnership between the Gridiron Club and Teen Lifeline.

"Everyone likes to talk about the physical things but not the mental things," said Izaac Patterson, a linebacker for Mountain Pointe.

The videos will be posted online and given to schools and to promote on social media.

"We know that them talking about it's OK to not always be OK and it's important to reach out for help...can go a lot further when you have leaders do that," said Nikki Kontz, Teen Lifeline's clinical director.

The latest numbers from the Arizona Department of Health show 49 children died by suicide in 2020.

That's a 30% increase compared to 2019.

Patterson told ABC15 he hopes the messages will help prevent future suicides.

"We're the guys that are most popular so when someone else sees one of the popular guys talking about it, it makes them feel more comfortable."

This was the group's fourth year teaming up to record PSAs but the first time they included cheerleaders.

"The athletic director reached out and asked if I wanted to participate," said Kayla Smith, a cheerleader at Mountain View. "And as soon as this opportunity came up, I knew I had to take it."

Smith told ABC15 she recently lost a friend to suicide and wanted to help.

"I knew it was very important to my school that I came and talked about this," she added.

Organizers said the videos would be released in September to coincide with the high school football season and Teen Suicide Prevention month.

Teens or parents struggling mentally can call 602-248-8336 or go to teenlifeline.org for help.