MESA, AZ — Tackling teen stress can be daunting for any family. Now, more communities are taking action to arm parents with potentially life-saving information.
Even at a young age, Raeanna Reitzel was a force of nature. A self-proclaimed "diva," who loved school, her friends and her family.
"It's incomprehensible to manage, to deal with because it's so unnatural," said Raeanna's Mom, Tina Reitzel.
Tina and Andy Reitzel's oldest daughter died by suicide on May 18, 2019. When they scoured her social media and text messages, they were stunned.
"It seemed like she just felt like she was disappointing everybody in her life," said Andy Reitzel.
"When your 13-year-old daughter thinks that she's fat and ugly and never going to get a boyfriend, that kind of seems like typical 13-year-old stuff," said Tina Reitzel. "Yeah, we took it seriously, but it was still unbelievable to us."
That is something Natalia Chimbo-Andrade hears from parents a lot. As director of community outreach and education for the behavioral health agency, Community Bridges Inc., she works with youth and families in crisis. She says the difference between typical teenage stress and something more serious isn't always obvious.
"We should always take it serious," said Chimbo-Andrade. "This is a different generation of kids, with different pressures that we didn't have to go through when we were in school."
Chimbo-Andrade is one of four presenters scheduled to speak at a resource night in Mesa on September 18.
She'll be encouraging all families to educate themselves on the potential risk factors and warning signs. Things like mood swings, risky or self-destructive behavior, references to suicide, changes in their normal routine or withdrawing from social contact. She also says it's important to create a network of other responsible adults who can help support and check in with your child, and to communicate, early and often.
"It's not just a one-time conversation," said Chimbo-Andrade. "Always, always have that talk with them."
The Reitzels admit before their daughter's death a resource night likely would not have been a priority.
"I probably would not have made the time to attend," said Tina Reitzel. "I wouldn't have thought for a second that it applied to my life or my kids."
Now, they're hoping other parents will invest the time.
"Talk to your kid and see what's going on and do the research, go online, look at what's out there," said Andy Reitzel. "There's tons of resources right? As to what parents can do in this situation? Go find them."
The event on September 18, 2019, goes from 6:00 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. at Shepherd Junior High School. The address is 1407 N Alta Mesa Drive, Mesa, AZ
Several organizations will also be on hand to share information and answer any questions.