Local teens illustrate their concerns for art competition

An alarming report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a sharp rise in suicide rates among young people. It is the second-leading cause of death for individuals aged 10 to 24.

Even more surprising, no one knows why suicide rates are surging.

Think about what stressed you out the most when you were a teen? Chances are it is not what teens are dealing with today.


"It's grown so much to a younger audience, they think it's cool and they love the buzzing effect,” said high school junior Jaiden Gerena.


"That's something that I deal with and I believe that's a big thing that many people my age are also dealing with,” said junior Nathalia Vaquero.


"You’re putting on a brave face. You’re showing people something that's not really happening,” said sophomore Evelyn Mindel.


"It's a shame right now because you don't choose to be an immigrant, so anyone can go through that process,” said junior Miranda Prieto.

Those are the top concerns for four different teens at Chicago’s Amundsen High School.

"I want people to know that they have support,” Vaquero said.

The teens are all participating in the "Expressions Challenge,” which is sponsored by Walgreens. In its tenth year, the program asks teens to depict their concerns using art, music and spoken word.

"Now that I have this opportunity, with the Walgreens challenge, it gives me an opportunity to speak out,” Vaquero said.

"Teaching people how to approach topics like this it makes all the difference,” Mindel said.

FOX 32 wanted to know how parents can understand what is concerning their teen before it's too late.

Dr. Hal Fuentes is a clinical psychologist who has been practicing in the Chicagoland area for 13 years with a focus on adolescence.

"Chances are they won't tell you unless you ask,” he said. "I think as parents, that's our job at the adolescent level is to really help them problem solve, not necessarily tell them what the right answer is, or to shape them into the person you think they need to, that you want them to be."

It all begins, Fuentes says, with consistent, open and honest conversation.

"As parents I think it's important that we're able to give a non-judgmental, really positive supportive type of conversation with them,” Fuentes said.

If you know an Illinois high school teen who is interested in taking the “Expressions Challenge,” the competition deadline is December 15. Submissions can be made by visiting expressionschallenge.com. Winners will be awarded cash.