In honor of our 35th Anniversary, Dr. Leader shares her memories of the early days of Teen Line in a series we like to call…
TEEN LINE FOUNDATIONS
By Elaine Leader, Ph.D., CGP, BCD, FAGPA
Chapter Fourteen: Community Connections Continued
As many of you probably know Teen Line has always been concerned with suicide prevention and this has led to one of our most important community collaborations. I am, of course, referring to our connection with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Center and its Suicide Prevention Center (SPC).
My personal involvement with the Suicide Prevention Center actually goes back to even before we founded Teen Line. Becoming acquainted with its founders and visiting its offices was a highlight of my early days in social work. Over the years I continued to admire their work and how the SPC developed. When the SPC became part of Didi Hirsch’s Mental Health Center our programming became more involved.
One aspect that evolved over the years through our collaborative efforts was having the SPC refer teenage callers to Teen Line if the caller was not in an immediately suicidal situation. I also did some workshop trainings for the SPC volunteers on adolescent development and issues. Over time our collaborations evolved to include educational and outreach partnerships, particularly those involving postvention efforts following a teen suicide.
We finally decided to formalize our collaborative efforts by developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between our two agencies. The MOU states that the SPC would handle Teen Line’s after hours calls utilizing a designated phone line at their headquarters named Teen Line After Hours. At the same time Teen Line’s voicemail proclaims that if a caller is in crisis and needs to speak to someone right away but our line is not open, then the caller is immediately transferred to SPC’s Teen Line After Hours line.
This collaboration has been so important and we are deeply grateful to SPC for forwarding us regular reports on the calls they receive via transference from Teen Line when our teens are not available to staff our hotline. We know that although our transferred calls are handled by adults we are really comfortable knowing that the teen caller in crisis will receive excellent care from the adult at SPC answering their call.
As part of our collaboration we also have enjoyed working together on the LACDMH Suicide Prevention Network including participation in the annual Summit offered to the wider community on this important issue. And, of course, participating at the SPC’s Annual fundraising events – the Didi Hirsch annual dinner and their SPC Alive and Running 5K Walk.
On a final note we are also proud of the fact that a former Teen Line staffer and a former Intern became Didi Hirsch employees after leaving Teen Line following their pursuit of further graduate education.