Beneath The Surface
Every day, 5,420 teens grades 7 through 12 attempt suicide.
If that number scares you, it should. While growing up has never been easy, today’s teens face a landscape that might be unrecognizable to their parents. In addition to cliques and peer pressure they live in a fast-changing social media world — Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook — that exposes and makes vulnerable as much as it shares and connects. Factor in high school and mass shootings, terrorism, daily reports about climate change, and the prospect of life-changing college loan debt and it’s no wonder that rates of teen depression, anxiety, and, tragically, suicide are soaring.
My newest book, Beneath the Surface, speaks candidly to teens about depression, suicide and the issues they face every day. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in young people aged 10 to 24, and the vast majority of suicides are completed by people struggling with depression or other mental illnesses.
The issues covered, including depression, eating disorders, PTSD, anxiety, and substance abuse, are accompanied by the stories of real teens who have experienced and come through these challenges. Testimonials from teens who have been depressed, attempted suicide, and survived highlight ways that kids can recognize danger signs in their own lives, help a friend in trouble, and find nonjudgmental, empathic help.
As a fellow survivor of grief and trauma, it is my passion to to show the hopeless that there is hope, the lonely that they aren’t alone, and that life can be much, much easier than seems possible in moments of crisis.
Kristi Hugstad’s presentation to the Health students at Dana Hills High School was very moving and informative. She brought her first hand expertise and personal insight when living with a person who is experiencing the ill-effects of substance-related disorders, specifically steroid use. Her story demonstrates the importance of recognizing the signs of mental illness; including paranoia, depression and suicide. Kristi’s natural ability to interact and connect with high school students was inspiring to witness. Her catch phrase and the title of her book “R U OK?”, captures the essence of her message. Our Health students were captivated with her story and many students expressed that her message was heard loud and clear. Thank you Kristi, for sharing such a painful event, and turning this personal tragedy into a lesson to be remembered.
Jeanette Boyle | DHHS Health Educator, Dana Point, CA
"I wanted to reach out to thank for everything you do to help our teens. Coming to speak to our students at San Clemente High School about it being ok to not be ok. That there is SO much hope and help. Powerful message for those feeling scared of whats in their head. You are making a difference! Thank you for all you do! "
Angie Tisdale - San Clemente High School Health
If you or your teen needs more information, resources or immediate help, please know it’s available! The following toll-free hotlines are available to help 24/7:
Teenline (This is a crisis hotline for teens to talk to other teens): 800-TLC-TEEN
AFSP American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
Trevor Lifeline (Crisis line for LGBTQ youth): 866-488-7386
Bullying Hotline: 800-273-8255
National Eating Disorder Association: 800-931-2237
National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hotline: 877-437-8422