A local group is helping San Ramon Valley schools in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse and teen depression, some of the leading causes of death in people under 21.
Teen Esteem works with schools from Livermore to Concord, talking to young people about making healthy choices and about the cultural pressures teens face today, according to Director Linda Turnbull.
"This last year, two of the things that we've been focusing on and adding to the other things we address is prescription drug abuse consequences and the world of cyberspace, the types of sexting, and the harassing a bullying that's going on," Turnbull said. "Bottom line is addressing what is self respect and what does it mean to respect others."
Teen Esteem recently was awarded a grant from the San Ramon Valley Kiwanis Foundation, and Turnbull said the money will help the group's work in schools, with marriage and family therapists, and with law enforcement.
Turnbull said Teen Esteem's mission is education, learning what's happening with young people, letting parents know, and offering tips.
"We're just trying to be a resource and offer support for the community," Turnbull said.
One recent concern, she said, is a recent spike in teen suicides.
"I've been involved in Teen Esteem since 1994 and I've heard about more suicides in the last four years," Turnbull said. She said the media is in part to blame, as well as access to the Internet.
"There are so many different messages," she said."Today, you're bombarded with it."
Turnbull said the recent suicide of a young woman from San Ramon Valley High School is a case in point.
"It's really grieved me what people have said (in online postings and elsewhere). Nobody knows the circumstance and nobody will ever know the circumstances," she said. "I've heard wonderful things about this family. It's one of those things that you look at it and I almost fell that it could be any family."