Our underlying philosophy that free and confidential help is a fundamental right, no matter who you are or what your needs may be, has positioned Long Island Crisis Center as a leader in addressing emerging health and social issues. When there is a population that is underserved, overlooked and challenged by stigma and isolation, Long Island Crisis Center is there to advocate and, when appropriate, provide needed services.
As providers of anonymous, non-judgmental services, our hotline counselors have always been keenly aware of the pain and isolation of teenagers coming to terms with being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Since the early 1970’s, we have fielded calls from kids who were kicked out of their homes, considering suicide, and feeling like they had nowhere to turn. For many years, Long Island Crisis Center was the only agency in the region to specifically outreach to LGBT youth, even putting funding in jeopardy at times due to the public’s lack of understanding of the cause.
In 1993, we created Pride for Youth in response to the severe gap in services to LGBT youth. What started as a single support group for six to eight youth each week has grown into a multi-service program addressing many of LGBT teenagers’ needs and serving over 500 youth each year. Pride for Youth’s mission is to enhance the health, wellness and cultural competency of LGBT youth through education, youth development and supportive services.
In keeping with its mission of providing services and programs to Long Islanders at critical times in their lives, Long Island Crisis Center launched its Young Latina Initiative in October 2012.
In recent published studies, young Latinas, ages 12 - 21, have been identified as attempting suicide more often than any other teenagers (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Many issues have been identified that contribute to this high incidence: pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression, substance abuse and impulsivity; increased family stress and conflict they experience due to poorer than average financial conditions; tension between the "traditional" cultural norms, values and expectations of Latina families versus those of their "Americanized" daughters; and, in some cases, a lack of stable and positive male parental involvement.
This new initiative will increase our capacity to provide suicide prevention/intervention to young Latinas and provide support to their families. Primarily, the Crisis Center's hotlines will have immediate translation services available and community outreach to both young Latinas and their families will be facilitated bilingually and target the growing Hispanic Long Island community.
In 2007, two 20-year-old female college students from Long Island, Carol Kestenbaum and Nicole Schiffman, were murdered in Arizona by an emotionally disturbed young man who also ultimately killed himself. While we still grieve the horrific and preventable loss of two promising young women, the tragedy has sparked a mental health awareness campaign that we are proud to be co-sponsoring with the Nicole Schiffman Foundation.
Always on the cutting edge of providing human services, Long Island Crisis Center recognizes that too often depression and mental illness in young people lead to violence, self-injury or suicide. We will be urging teens, through video ads and Web 2.0, the latest in online technology and design, to “look closer” at their friends to recognize signs of trouble and support them in getting help.
The campaign begins with a series of short video ads that will air on cable television and video-sharing websites, such as
YouTube, and direct viewers to the official website (lookcloseronline.com). The ads feature young people in distress, yet hiding it from their peers. These youth will become a “cast of characters” who will appear on the website, with profiles similar to ones on social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. Trained crisis counselors, posing as concerned friends, will post messages to these characters with supportive words and links to mental health resources, including a link to LICC’s online live, anonymous counseling.
Although the site will not be interactive, it will be an exciting and engaging new way for young people to learn constructive ways to help a friend in need and learn where to go for help. And with new characters and profiles added periodically, a broad range of issues facing young people today can be addressed.