When Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Arizona) senior linebacker Brock Locnikar was asked to do a public-service announcement to spread the word about Teen Lifeline, a hotline to help those in a crisis, he was quick to step up.
“Self-self harm and suicide is really an epidemic in America today,” the Harvard commit said. “We have to stop focusing so much on social media and help our people in need. This means that we should give to our neighbor and help people around us.
“We should all come together because in unison, we are much more powerful. Reaching out to the weak is what makes someone strong, and self-harm must stop.”
Locnikar is one of eight Arizona high school football players who have taken part in public-service announcements during September, which is Teen Suicide Prevention month.
Teen Lifeline scheduled 32 campus visits in 30 days to share the message.
“There is help and there is hope,” said Don Kile, president of the National Quarterback Club and the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club that is helping the Arizona-based Teen Lifeline suicide prevention hotline operators.
Scottsdale Chaparral senior wide receiver Tommy Christakos said the announcements are worth it if one person is saved.
Michelle Moorhead, who was part of the pregame coin toss on Friday for the Saguaro-Chaparral football rivalry game, started the Arizona based-Teen Lifeline 32 years ago. The National Quarterback Club Charities reached out to Moorhead to bring the message to the high school football community.
“Here’s an important stat for us,” Kile said. “The No. 1 cause of death for college students in the United States is suicide. We find it incredible important. Let’s use the peer-to-peer platform.
“Bring the kids who are in your classroom online every day and reach the kids who they know already. Everybody knows (Chaparral quarterback) Jack Miller and Tommy Christakos. They see those guys’ faces. It’s immediately effective. In a matter of seven days, we saw 30,000 views of those videos. We are eager to watch the next round.”
Phoenix Arcadia running back Paxton Earl said he was honored to be part of the project.
“It’s important to me because I have close friends in my community who struggle with depression and/or have lost someone to suicide,” Earl said. “When we were filming these videos, I had these people in mind, which made me truly understand the significance of the issue.”
Saguaro kicker Parker Lewis wants to make an impact in people’s lives beyond kicking a football on Friday night.
“Doing the video for the Gridiron Club really helped to show me that there are people who really care and want to spread awareness to this issue,” he said. “It’s as simple as picking up the phone to talk to someone whenever you want. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The PSAs are being channeled through various social media sites throughout the month.