Citizen journalist Dana Brandorff’s YourHub.com story recounts how a sustained episode of text messaging by 15-year-old Hunter Smith saved a life. The incident began when “a friend of hers [who] was emotionally distraught” texted Hunter to let her know what was happening.
For several hours, the two texted back and forth until he calmed down. Hunter says, “At the time, I really thought he was going to do something to himself, so I felt compelled to stay ‘with him.'” In between texts, she disclosed the situation to her parents who instructed her to inform the school counselor about the situation.
“My parents explained that I could and should support my friend, but that the counselors were trained and equipped to handle these types of situations,” says Hunter. “One question I asked myself was,’How would I feel if my friend hurt himself and I could have prevented it?’
Indeed, Hunter did confide in the school counselor concerning her friend.
“She did the right thing,” says Michele Campbell, a former high school counselor who currently has her own private therapy practice focusing on adolescent issues. “At this age, emotions are real, tangible, and acute.”
Campbell says it’s best to err on the side of “worst case” and not just assume that these types of text messages are a form of teenage angst.
Hunter’s experience helping her friend also shows that “high tech tools can also be used for good, and a cell phone can become a lifeline for some.”
“The positive is that teens are reaching out to someone. But it’s not just the communication that’s important. It’s also what the person on the receiving end does with the information. It’s listening and knowing where to turn if a friend is in trouble that counts,” says Campbell.
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