She says she was physically and emotionally abused at home and felt that no one loved her.

She had a drug and alcohol problem. Her friends stayed around out of pity or so they could make fun of her, she thought. She was not good enough for anyone. She just wanted the pain to stop.So "Hope" tried to kill herself, once by slitting her wrists and once by taking an overdose of tranquilizers.

But she didn't die.

"They told me at the hospital that whenever someone almost died but didn't there was a reason," she said. "I had no idea what that reason could be."

Hope (not her real name) was 15 when she tried to kill herself. Now, at 17, she is trying to stop other teenagers from making the same mistake.

"I talk to school assemblies about depression and suicide," she said. "Teenagers don't always like to listen to adults, but they will listen to another teenager."

At 15, Hope was removed from her parents' home and placed in a treatment program for suicidal teens. At first, she wasn't too happy to be there.

"I had no self-esteem at all, and the counselors kept telling me I was OK, I had a pretty smile and I was fun to be around. I had never had positive reinforcement in my life. I thought they were crazy."

Part of the program was climbing a 60-foot tree while wearing a safety harness.

"They said I couldn't come down until I said four nice things about myself. I couldn't think of any, but I wanted to come down, so I just said the first four things that came into my head."

Her words came back to haunt her. Counselors made her repeat daily that she was "understanding, caring, determined and delightful." She had to tell her mirror of her qualities and make a poster about them. She was required to carry a card listing her virtues.

"I told them I lost the card, so they made me make a whole bunch of them. More than I could lose."

But eventually, she started to believe she was good.

"It was hard giving up 15 years of beliefs, but it changed everything," Hope said. "It's so nice to finally be happy. There will always be things in my life I don't like and can't change, but now I know I don't have to base my self-esteem on that."

Now Hope lives in a group home and declares proudly that she has been sober for 16 months.

"I always have to keep an eye on myself; it would be easy to slip back into old habits. Never say never - that's when you let your guard down."

Every day, she tries to see the positive things in herself and her friends rather than focusing on the negative. "I help myself by helping others."

Hope knows of one youth who got treatment for depression after hearing her story, and Hope thinks she may have helped many others. She wants to help more.

"I want to be a therapist and help teenagers. Anyone can say they know how a suicidal teenager feels. I really do know."

Her advice to parents is to get help for their children if they suspect a problem. "Don't just wait to let it get worse."

Hope said if she could give something to teenagers, it would be "the courage to deal with problems - it takes real courage - and to get on with a happy life."