Many teens have cell phones, and if not a phone, some other portal to the Internet. These are five numbers that should be made available to every teen simply by adding them to the contact list. Some of these topics are extremely heavy, so it’s ideal to discuss what to do in conjunction with dialing or sharing these numbers.
1. Poison Control: (800) 222-1222
This is a great number to have for teens who babysit or even just watch younger siblings. However, poison control isn’t just for babies. Some topics that may impact teens include drug or alcohol use, improper use of over-the-counter or prescription medication, teen trends including the “cinnamon challenge”, side effects from energy drinks, carbon monoxide poisoning, eye or skin exposure to a chemical, insect or animal bites, poison ivy, mixing cleaners and food poisoning.
Parent message: Let your kids know that it’s OK to talk to you if they’re concerned about a friend’s, or their own, drinking or drug use. Also discuss when calling Poison Control is appropriate, and when to dial 911 instead.
2. NoBLE/Common Ground Bullying Hotline: (855) UR-NOBLE (855-876-6253)
Beaumont Health’s NoBLE (No Bullying Live Empowered) program has a 24/7 bullying hotline operated by Common Ground, a non-profit crisis intervention agency. In addition to the hotline, NoBLE has additional resources available to help support kids affected by bullying.
Parent message: Talk to your kids about bullying, including why it’s important to not be a bully or a bully bystander. Let them know to talk to you if they are being bullied, or if they witness bullying of one of their peers.
3. Love is Respect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline: (866) 331-9474
The statistics for teen dating violence is shocking. According to loveisrespect.org, “One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence”. Teens often have little experience in relationships and aren’t always able to identify when behavior is considered “abuse”.
Parent message: Make sure to let your children know that they can talk with you about personal things and that you won’t overreact. If they believe you can handle problems together, they may feel more inclined to talk to you about behavior that makes them uncomfortable. Visit the Love is Respect site and review the warning signs of abuse together so they will know if things are getting dangerous.
4. National Eating Disorder Association: (800) 931-2237
Having access to the Internet can lead those suffering with eating disorders to the wrong kind of “support” by finding those who enable this disease.
If you type certain eating disorder “code words” into the Instagram search features, a warning pops up advising of possible graphic content. It gives the option to click “learn more” and you’ll be directed to an Instagram page with information about eating disorders and links where to get help.
If you do the same search on Pinterest, a banner message appears with the message: “Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices; they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or
The National Institute of Heath reports that eating disorders frequently begin in the teen years and that girls are at a 2½ times greater risk.
Parent message: Make healthy body image a family priority. Be aware of the signs of each different eating disorder listed here. Two newer eating disorders include Diabulemia, a disorder specific to those with Type 1 Diabetes, and Orthorexia Nervosa, which occurs when healthy eating becomes an obsession.
5. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255
Chances are your teen has heard about, or known someone who has committed suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people age 10–24. Unfortunately, there’s a huge stigma attached to suicide, and it isn’t openly discussed. Often family and friends didn’t realize their loved one was suffering.
Parent message: Talk to your teen about suicide. It’s an extremely uncomfortable topic to discuss, but it’s very important to establish an open dialogue. Discuss the warning signs. Let them know that they can talk to you about anything, including thoughts of hurting themselves or concern for friends exhibiting these behaviors. Instruct your teen that it’s imperative to tell you right away if anyone they know talks about committing suicide, even if your child thinks they’re joking or exaggerating.
– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System