Kansas teen suicide rate on the rise

Published: Nov. 26, 2018 at 9:34 PM CST
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The Auburn-Washburn school district informed families Monday that a high school junior took his own life Friday.

The news has school and community leaders working to increase awareness of a rise of teen suicides.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in people 15 to 24, according to the National Institute for Mental Health, and Kansas isn't immune.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a massive increase in suicides especially in the state of Kansas,” said Family Service and Guidance Center Team Leader Travis Freed. “In comparison to other states, Kansas has had the fifth highest rise in teen suicide in the nation.”

Freed says no one knows for sure what's behind this increase but cyberbullying could play a role.

“It’s a lot more accessible and you can bully in front of a lot more people instead of just in the school yard or in the classroom or wherever it is,” said Freed. “It’s more accessible to the general populous as well. Families see it and parents see it so it’s more shameful.”

The decision to take one’s own life can take minutes to hours, or longer. Freed says teens often make a plan or tell a friend.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s become almost commonplace for kids to talk about it in school," said Freed. “But we always tell people at Family Services we always want them to take it seriously."

He says look for substance abuse, aggressive or disruptive behaviors, or a sudden lift in mood, and most importantly don’t judge.

“It’s really important to have that conversation with them and ask them directly ‘are you feeling suicidal, how do you feel like hurting yourself,’” said Freed. “Don’t judge just sit back and listen.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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