Wednesday, March 09, 2011

To Save a Life - A Letter to Parents

Hey Parents,

I want to let you know about an upcoming series for our teenagers, which I believe is going to be life changing for those involved. The seven-week series starts on March 9, and it is based on the movie To Save A Life. I highly recommend that not only your son or daughter see the movie, but you see it as well. The movie is about the real-life challenges of teens and their choices, and it can help raise awareness of what students go through.

In the To Save A Life series, we will deal with hard but very real issues like social acceptance, cutting, teen suicide, depression, and somehow being Jesus’ hands and feet in a hurting world. Even though these are difficult topics, over the next few weeks the series will help your son or daughter become equipped to reach out to the hurting and lonely on their campuses and truly make a difference in their world. I really encourage you to ask your teen about their experiences each week, and be ready to listen to what they’re learning and how they’re being challenged.

What’s Your Teen’s Life Going to Be About?
In a compelling scene from the movie To Save A Life, the youth pastor tells the main character, Jake, “At some point, you’ve gotta answer the question, ‘What’s your life going to be about?’” Teen life is full of questions…and defining moments. Help your teen see themselves as loved by God and able to live a life of real significance.

Series Schedule:
  • March 9: Lowering the Waterline—If we are going to love the hurting and lonely, then we first need to know how much God loves us.
  • March 16: You’re Not Alone—We need to notice and respond to hurting and lonely peers in our sphere of influence.
  • March 30: Say Something…Do Something—We want to not just know about hurting and lonely peers, but to serve them and be “Jesus’ hands and feet.”
  • April 6: What’s your Logline?—We want to meet our peers in their hurt and to help others rewrite their stories based on how God sees them.
  • April 13: How to Save a Life—God can actually use our small acts of service for the hurting and lonely to save people’s lives and change the world.
  • April 20: Agape Feast—We’ll celebrate together with a huge potluck dinner like the early church.
  • April 27: Stepping Into the Bigger Picture—We will learn to reach out to the hurting and lonely in community.

Handling the Tough Stuff
Life as a teenager can be difficult. Every day, your teen does their best to be liked, do well in school, get along with their family, and make important decisions that could affect their whole lives. Teenagers can't avoid pressures, and it’s natural to worry about them. The first step in helping your teen is differentiating between normal growing pains and a crisis situation. No one knows your son or daughter better than you. Read through the following list and remember these signs as you observe your teenager. You might also be in a position to help one of their friends.

A teen might need special help if they:
  • Feel or act very angry most of the time, cry a lot, or overreact
  • Display obvious and abrupt behavioral changes
  • Are repeatedly involved in high-risk behaviors
  • Complain of medically undiagnosed physical problems
  • Start doing much worse in school, or lose interest in activities or other things they usually enjoy
  • Change their sleep or eating habits, have persistent nightmares, or use alcohol or drugs
  • Avoid friends or family and want to be alone all the time
  • Say they can’t concentrate, make decisions, or pay attention to anything
  • Use suicidal language such as “I’d be better off dead,” “You won’t have to worry about me much longer,” or “No one cares if I’m around, I’ll just end it all”
  • Talk about hurting others or lashing out at people or property

If you observe one or more of these signs, you might need to find experienced or even professional help for your student.

Did You Know…
  • Depression strikes about one out of eight teenagers []
  • 14%-39% of teens have had at least one incident of deliberate self-injury [Journal of Abnormal Psychology]
  • Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among 10- to 19-year-olds [National Institute of Mental Health]

These are difficult, but very real issues. Below are some Web sites, books, and phone numbers where you can find help.
  • National Institute of Mental Health ( and search under children and adolescents)
  • Boys and Girls Town 24-hour Hotline: 1-800-448-3000
  • 1-800-Suicide
  • 1-800-273-Talk
  • 1-877-Youthline
  • A Parent’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis by Rich Van Pelt and Jim Hancock
  • Hope and Healing For Kids Who Cut by Marv Penner