The 17-year-old girl was contemplating suicide when she called TEEN LINE. She had been a victim of date rape, as well as physical and emotional abuse at home. Answering her call for help was another teenager – a trained volunteer who talked with her for more than an hour, finally persuading her to seek professional help.

It is a too-common story: a teen in crisis who feels adults can’t possibly understand, and that friends might laugh at their problems or abandon them. Since 1980, this free peer counseling hotline has been based at Cedars-Sinai, helping young people as they struggle with abuse, drugs and alcohol, depression, homelessness, gangs, pregnancy and other issues.

More than 10,000 teens call the hotline each year, while the TEEN LINE website receives more than 140,000 visits, and others access the program’s new text message program. The program also connects with young people through presentations at schools and other community sites and through workshops on topics such as teen suicide, tolerance and growing up gay.