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Whiz Kid: Local Student Works to Prevent Teen Suicide

This week’s Whiz Kid is actively working to prevent teen suicide in our local community.

Name: Rhea Jagasia

Age: 17

School: Brookline High School (she lives in Newton)

Accomplishment: Since Rhea’s sophomore year of high school, she has made herself available to other teens who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. She volunteers at Samaritans, Inc., which is a local suicide prevention and support organization that serves the Greater Boston and MetroWest communities.

Over the course of 300 training hours, Rhea, learned how to listen better by asking open-ended questions and avoiding passing judgment or trying to provide superficial solutions to complex problems.

Now, Rhea answers teen calls once a week while balancing her regular academic activities, tutoring younger students in math, and serving as a senior mentor at Brookline High School.

Rhea was also a committee member for the recent Samaritans fundraiser called “Make Noise 3,” which was held at the House of Blues in Boston on Sunday, Jan. 15. The benefit will raised awareness about the Samaritans and included music by renowned Billboard artist Joe Bermudez.

Key to Awesomeness: “I’ve always had an interest in psychology and learned about Samaritans through an ad placement in our school newspaper seeking volunteers. After my initial phone call with Samaritans, I knew immediately I wanted to help,” says Rhea, a Newton resident who attends Brookline High. “Since I started, the most important thing I’ve learned is how to not judge people. Everyone has their own story to share and some stories may not always be positive. I’ve learned that sometimes they just need someone to talk to and to just listen to them.”

Nomination information provided by Katie Stinchon. To nominate a kid, e-mail Brookline editor Grahame Turner

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