An argument with her mother and grandmother earlier that evening led Luciana to feel that her family did not understand or respect her because of her learning disabilities. It was in an upset panic that she then made the decision to run.

IMG_0248Luciana*, a 19-year-old youth with a history of mental health issues, called the 1-800-RUNAWAY crisis hotline in a panic. Standing outside of a shopping center in Corpus Christi, Texas, she was experiencing unbearable emotions and pain. And while admitting she had experienced similar situations and had been suicidal in the past, this was her first time reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline (NRS).

An argument with her mother and grandmother earlier that evening led Luciana to feel that her family did not understand or respect her because of her learning disabilities. It was in an upset panic that she then made the decision to run.

After discussing friends and families’ homes as possible places for her to stay, Aaron*, a trained and experienced frontline team member, searched for available shelter resources, and ultimately, got a hold of one. Unfortunately, Aaron and Luciana were informed that the shelter was booked for the night.  With this devastating news, Luciana expressed feelings of being suicidal.

At this point, Aaron shifted the focus of the call to ensuring the immediate safety of Luciana due to her suicidal thoughts. Luciana voiced a desire to jump into some nearby water, and together, Aaron and Luciana came up with the option of going to a nearby nursing home away from the water where she could ask for further assistance. Aaron continued offering supportive statements to Luciana while continuing to talk through possible plans for the night.

While Aaron and Luciana were still discussing ways in which NRS could be of help, police patrolling the area noticed her standing outside of the shopping center and came to check on her. Luciana explained that she was on the phone with NRS, and Aaron stayed on the phone while the police asked her questions. The officers reassured Luciana that she was not in trouble, but that they did not want her staying outside of the shopping center where it was not safe. Luciana then stated that she was thinking about committing suicide, so the police escalated the matter.  With NRS’ input, the police made a plan to drive Luciana back to the station where they could either coordinate shelter with a family member or at a local facility.

During National Minority Mental Health Month in July, it is an important time to recognize that millions of youth live with depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome or a host of other mental health issues.  Up to one in five youth experience serious mental health disorders every year. Mental health affects thought processes, relationships, productivity and the ability to adapt to changes in circumstances or cope with adversity. One valuable resource, within NRS’ database of nearly 10,000 resources, is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which offers information at www.nami.org and 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). NAMI also offers free education courses for individuals and families affected by mental illness, as well as support groups.

*Names and locations have been changed to respect anonymity

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