TAMPA, Fla. — "I had a friend for about two years who struggled with anxiety and depression,” said Emily Surak.
16-year-old Emily Surak walked her friend to a guidance counselor at Plant High School multiple times.
"It came to a point where she was talking about it every single day about why her life was horrible,” she said.
Her friend attempted suicide but is getting better today because of caring hearts like hers.
"I've always given my friends advice and tried to help them in the best way possible that I can,” she said.
Surak is now a teen suicide awareness advocate working with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and makes it her social platform as a Miss Florida Teen contestant.
She highlights resources like 211, a hotline answered by Crisis Center counselors 24-7.
"When I found out about The Crisis Center, I realized that so many teens don't know about this,” she said.
A new Centers for Disease Control study shows suicide rates for youngsters has increased exponentially from 2006 to 2016-- up 70 and 77 percent for white and black youth, respectively.
"If you're not at school or if you don't feel comfortable talking to a guidance counselor or an adult that you know personally, it's a great outlet to speak to someone anonymously and they don't have to know who you are,” said Sudak.
Some experts point to inadequate mental health and addiction treatment, the pressures of social media and poverty.
Surak says she wants to make sure 211 is a free resource no matter who you are.
"A lot of teens are struggling with mental illness,” she said.