Arizona Broadcasters to Simulcast Cronkite Documentary on Youth Suicide in Arizona

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Posted By on January 7, 2021
Dozens of TV stations across Arizona will join together in January in a rare effort to combat the growing epidemic of youth suicide.
 
In partnership with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, more than 25 TV stations will air a half-hour, commercial-free student-produced documentary Jan. 12 about youth suicide in Arizona and what can be done stop it.
 
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, youth suicide rates climbed by a staggering 56% across the United States between 2007-2017, making it the second leading cause of death for young people. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, the CDC estimates that one in four young people have contemplated taking their life.
 
In Arizona, the rate of suicide among adolescents has consistently exceeded the national average.
 
All major network-affiliated stations in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma are expected to air the documentary. Other partners include Arizona’s largest Spanish-language TV stations, public television partners including Arizona PBS, and independently owned stations across the state. To maximize its reach, the 30-minute program will be broadcast in unison Jan. 12 at 5 p.m. on Spanish-language TV stations and at 6:30 p.m. on English-language TV stations.
 
The documentary, titled “Life is…”, was produced through a grant from the Arizona Community Foundation and with the support of the Arizona Broadcasters Association. It analyzes the underlying societal, cultural, technological and medical causes behind the state’s troubling statistics and offers resources and potential solutions. 
 
“This is a critical issue impacting our youth in Arizona. The investigative reporting conducted by these students will enable us to work on solutions within our community to support teens in the future” said Steve Seleznow, president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation.
 
Dozens of students spent the past year reporting and producing the documentary and related digital content on mental health, isolation and loneliness, at-risk gene variants, the LGBTQ+ community and more. Their stories are available at www.confrontingyouthsuicideaz.com.
 
The students worked under the direction of Cronkite Visiting Professor David Ariosto, an author and journalist who has managed, produced and written for National Geographic, Time Magazine, NPR, Reuters, CNN, and Al Jazeera America. 
 
“This project has made important progress on an extremely pressing issue,” said Ariosto. “The students not only told the stories of youth suicide in our state but also helped uncover possible solutions to benefit our community and across the country.”    
 
The youth suicide project follows a multi-year partnership between the Cronkite School and Arizona broadcasters to shed light on some of Arizona’s most pressing issues. In both 2015 and 2017, the Cronkite School produced documentaries for air across the state about alarming rises in prescription opioid abuse. The first documentary was watched live by an estimated 1 million Arizona viewers and won numerous honors, including the region’s top Emmy and a national Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.
 
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