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Tempe School District To Add Suicide Hotline Number To Student IDs

Teen suicide has risen more than 80 percent in Arizona in recent years. One school district in the Valley is trying to change that — with one simple change to student IDs.

All 14,000 students at Tempe Union High School District will soon have IDs bearing the number to the Teen Lifeline, a hotline where young people can get free, anonymous counseling. Jennifer Liewer, a spokeswoman with the district, said officials at Tempe Union know students are under a lot of pressure, especially between academics and social media.

“We are really hoping that this can have an impact, and in addition to having the phone number, it also helps us create a dialogue with students,” she said, “and that is just as important, if not more important, than the act of putting the phone number on the back on the ID.”

Liewer said Teen Lifeline is peer counseling, staffed by trained teens all day and into the night. During late hours, adults at a local crisis center answer the hotline, making help available 24 hours a day.

The Teen Lifeline can be reached by call or text at (602) 248-8336 (TEEN)or statewide at (800) 248-8336.

When senior field correspondent Stina Sieg was 22, she moved to the desert. She hasn’t been the same since. At the time, the Northern California native had just graduated from college and was hankering for wide-open spaces. So she took a leap and wrote to nearly every newspaper in New Mexico until one offered her a job. That’s how she became the photographer for a daily paper in the small town of Silver City. And that’s when she realized how much she loved storytelling. In the years since, the beauty of having people open up and share their stories — and trust her to tell them — has never gotten old to Sieg. Before coming to KJZZ, Sieg was also a writer and photographer at newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Moab, Utah; and the Smoky Mountains town of Waynesville, North Carolina. She always had her hand in public radio, too, including hosting Morning Edition on a fill-in basis at WNCW in North Carolina. It’s still the best music station she’s found. When she’s not reporting, chances are Sieg is running, baking, knitting or driving to some far-flung town deep in the desert — just to see what it looks like.