YWCA hosts panel discussion “Teens Talk”


The number of American teens admitted to hospitals for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts nearly doubled between 2007 and 2015. That’s according to publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The suicide epidemic reaches across the entire nation, including right here in the Ohio Valley.

On Monday night, the Wheeling YWCA hosted a panel discussion called “Teens Talk.” The purpose of this forum is to empower adolescents to help themselves or others struggling with abusive relationships or suicidal thoughts.

Social media has connected the world but in some ways, it has also driven us apart. Instead of only being bullied at school, kids can now be picked on at almost any time.

Social media usage has increased over the last decade and teen suicide rates have gone up over that same timeframe. But that’s not the only threat facing this younger generation.

“Teen dating violence is a huge problem in our area,” said Heather Lapp, the Wheeling YWCA’s Chief Strategic Officer. “We are fully aware of that and we have teen dating advocates both at Wheeling Park and John Marshall High Schools.”

Sponsored by the YWCA’s Youth Advisory Board and Wheeling Park’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter, Teens Talk also addressed the rise in suicidal inclinations among high school students.

“Teen suicide is another big problem that are youth are experiencing in all of our counties,” said Lapp. “They know that they want to talk about it and build awareness for it and learn the signs and how to prevent it.”

Teen suicide and dating violence were the topics that SADD and the YWCA Youth Board felt were most important to discuss in their first collaborative discussion. The event was open to high school teens, who shared their thoughts on why these issues are so prevalent and how they can help prevent these situations.

“With a lot of the social media apps that we have today, a lot of people actually feel lonelier than before because of the globalization in our world,” said Emily Croft, a student at Wheeling Park High School. “I think that it’s important that we try and reach out to those people to keep them from doing harmful things to themselves.”

The YWCA Youth Board says their plan is to continue hosting these talks on a regular basis. For more information on the YWCA and their Youth Board, you can visit their website

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