I noticed an article in The Republic entitled "Offering Hope To Struggling Teens" which is a production by high school students from Ohio. It will be at Southside Elementary School on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. and on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 3 p.m.

Below, you will find my comments after taking our youth group to see it several years ago in Greensburg.

As a youth leader within our church, I often get something through the mail. One particular item caught my eye-information about an event entitled Dead Serious About Life, a musical related to teen issues performed by young people from the Ohio area. As I was reading through the material, I noticed a list of stats related to teen issues with one being that a teenager will attempt suicide every 38 seconds.

There are several ways to think of such problems. One view may be to just ignore them while another one is to find strategies that will help teenagers address them. Personally, I am for the latter. The MISH group (www.mish-inc.com) must feel the same way because they have now performed for many people in several states and have counseled with numerous teens since 1989. Well, several young people from our community are now within the total number after watching the performance, a three hour one. Why does it take three hours? The objective is to not only share actual issues but to find ways to resolve them in a healthy manner and to provide hope even in what is perceived to be a hopeless situation.

Why would high school students devote so much time and effort to be a part of MISH. They simply believe in the cause. It is obvious as they perform! Afterward, some share stories about overcoming severe life problems themselves.

While teaching, we had a speaker in Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corporation who discussed stress points of young people as compared to when I was growing up. He stated that researchers had determined over 100 more stress points! Even though the researchers felt the number would soon decrease, it is my personal and professional opinion that it has increased. It is no wonder that a national mental health survey found that around 9% of teens have an anxiety disorder. I am also aware of recent brain imaging research that suggests the judgment area of a teenager's mind within the frontal lobes develops more slowly than other places and may not be fully developed until reaching their early twenties. Thus, teenagers have additional pressures demanding more judgment with brains still developing which complicates matters!

As individuals and as a community, what should we do? I am aware of support agencies through Washington as well as Indiana. At the same time, I have learned over the years that nobody cares more about you than those closest to you. We should help one another! It is one of the many reasons why we live in Hope. Friends should make it a priority to talk and listen to friends. Dinner is a prime time for pulling families together for important conversation. There are schools, churches, and other agencies with people who care very deeply for our young people and offer a variety of helpful programs. When teenagers reach out for help when feeling as if life is crushing them, they eventually find solutions and their problems then become stepping stones for building character. These local programs often need volunteers as well as monetary support. I'm proud to live in a small town that is willing to lend a hand or a dollar in making a positive difference in the lives of all, including our young people!