Four thousand young people die by suicide every year in the U.S. For every youth death by suicide, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made that require hospitalization, but that do not end in death. In our area alone, it is reported that there are 20 suicides each year for every 100,000 people. The Bay Bridge contributes to the fact that our area has one of the highest suicide rates in the state.
YES-IMALIVE was founded in 2012 to help youth living on the Eastern Shore address their problems through confidential peer hotline and crisis chat support. It is a program of the Kristin Brooks Hope Center (KBHC), a non-profit organization founded in 1998 by Reese Butler and dedicated to suicide prevention, intervention and healing. Reese has been on a personal crusade ever since the suicide of his wife Kristin from Postpartum Depression in April 1998. His mission for the past 11 years has been to offer HOPE and the option to LIVE to those in deepest emotional pain.
KBHC is a key stakeholder in the Queen Anne’s County Suicide Prevention Committee, QPR Institute, PostSecret, QAC Community Partnerships for Children and Families, the QAC Public School System and the QAC Anti Bullying Committee. The Youthline Eastern Shore is the first teen peer hotline created with the goal to eliminate suicide and suicide attempts.
The KBHC call center and the chat line operate 18 hours daily from 6 am to 2 am and plan on becoming a 24/7 operation by September 2013. There are 20 call center volunteers who are a part of the National Hopeline network that consists of 200 crisis centers nationwide. In addition to the Youthline, the Hopeline Network features many other help lines including PPDMOMS dedicated to Postpartum Depression (PPD), a common depression affecting 1 in 10 new moms.
Victoria Doyle, Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator for the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, says it was by chance that she became involved in the Youthline. She visited the center’s opening to meet an author she admired by the name of Frank Warren and ended up following a completely unexpected path. With an education in Psychology and Youth Studies, Victoria never dreamed she would be running a suicide crisis hotline, but now can’t imagine doing anything else. Victoria strongly feels that she has professionally and personally found her passion!
YES-IMALIVE The Youthline Eastern Shore is looking for volunteers with a passion from age 15 to 100. Today, their youngest volunteer is 15 years old and their oldest is 76. Volunteers devote four or more hours per week to the center. They first undergo a four to six week training program that consists of 60 hours of training in crisis intervention and peer counseling and several hours of mentoring by a senior volunteer. The basic requirement for a volunteer is that you must be passionate and open minded about helping people. It is cautioned that the work is not for the weak of heart!
If volunteering doesn’t appeal to you, you can help in many other ways. Monetary donations are always welcome; or, you can sponsor training materials for one volunteer or support an entire Youthline shift, generally comprised of five people!
Victoria Doyle is actively seeking volunteers! An Open House is being held on Monday, July 29th from 6-8 pm at the Center located at 411 Log Canoe Circle in the Stevensville Business Park across from PRS Guitars. For more information contact Victoria at 443-249-3125, email@example.com or www.yesimalive.org. Victoria and volunteers from YES-IMALIVE! will be at the Kent Island Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival at Kent Island High School though Saturday, July 27th from 6 pm to close.
Spread the word. Tell your friends and family about Youthline, its services and its need; a life may depend on it. If you are thinking about suicide, call 1-877-YOUTHLINE (968-2454) or 1-800-784-2433. If you or someone you know is currently in danger, dial 911 immediately.
In photo: Victoria Doyle, Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator of YES-IMALIVE Youthline Eastern Shore, and her Husband Michael Doyle, volunteer and 5th Grade Teacher at Kennard Elementary School in Centreville.