Various television stations and newspapers have recently covered the story the the Self-Expression and Leadership Program project of Charlene Westgate. Westgate, who tragically lost her son to suicide two years ago, created a series of events in the form of tea parties to raise awareness about teen suicide and raise money as well. Two stories appear below , starting with one from Fox News 11 of Tucson, Arizona.
Tea Parties to Prevent Teen Suicide Planned
A Tucson woman who lost her teenage son to suicide two years ago is organizing a series of tea parties to raise awareness and funding to fight teen suicide. Charlene Westgate will host her own â€œTea For Teensâ€ party on Tuesday, July 15, and is hoping to see as many as 30 similar parties held for the same cause.
â€œI created Tea For Teens out of my commitment that teens experiencing depression get diagnosed and treated, so all teens have the possibility of loving life and no parent has to know the terrible pain of losing a child to this disease.â€, Westgate says.
Westgate says her 19-year old son Josephâ€™s depression was never accurately diagnosed and that several warning signs were missed. All money raised by the tea parties will be used to make guides available in schools to help students, teachers and parents recognize the warning signs, understand the illness and get proper treatment.
Westgateâ€™s goal is to raise at least $5,000 for Families for Depression Awareness, a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping families recognize and cope with depression. Now through August 15, those interested in hosting or attending a Tea for Teens party can contact Charlene at 520-398-9893.
A story also appeared in the Green Valley News, shown below.
Fundraiser to Benefit Teen Suicide Prevention Group
by Derek Jordan
Tonight, the Caf/ Presidio in Tubac will host a fundraiser to educate and increase awareness of teen suicide and depression. Charlene Westgate is the founder of â€œTea for Teens,â€ a project that organizes community members in order to raise funds and to educate and inform local parents and teens about teen suicide and depression.
All donations from the events go toward purchasing brochures that teach teens and parents how to identify and deal with signs of depression in young people.
â€œI wanted to find a way to raise funds to make the teen guides that they have available to local schools,â€ Westgate said. â€œSo I just created a project to be able to make that happen.â€
Westgate’s project has already reached as far as Tennessee and Virginia, thanks to enthusiastic family members who set up their own â€œTea for Teensâ€ gatherings, each with their own individual spin.
â€œEach person adapts it to their own situation,â€ she said.
Though little more than a collection of â€œconcerned members of the community,â€ Westgate believes that these gatherings, which are normally two hours or less, provide an opportunity to learn and to help local high schools. The brochures that the parties raise money to purchase are published by Families for Depression Awareness, an organization that Westgate discovered after her son, Joseph, committed suicide two years ago, at the age of 19.
â€œI had done a lot of research after I lost my son to suicide,â€ she said. â€œAfter looking around, I just felt that the teen guide that they make available would really make a difference to teenagers experiencing depression.â€ Westgate said the guides would go to local high schools. â€Every dollar donated will purchase one teen depression resource guide, and we will be making them available to local schools.â€
Michael Barr, training manager for the Southern Arizona Mental Health Center, will give a brief talk at the meeting. Barr spoke at a previous â€œTea for Teensâ€ gathering at Westgate’s home, and said he fully supports community-based initiatives like the one she has started.
â€œThe point is that this is coming from the community, and that, I think, is a lot more meaningful, and I want to support that,â€ Barr said.
Personal interaction and communication are pivotal to helping those who are depressed and considering suicide, he said. â€œNotice people’s distress,â€ he said, â€œand then ask, hey, are you OK?â€
Westgate said that those looking for more information about teen depression can visit the Families for Depression Awareness web site at www.familyaware.org. Here is a link to the Green Valley News story.