Youth suicide rates in Shawnee County have continued to rise

TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW) -- According to the Shawnee County Health Department suicide rates among Kansas children and young adults has been consistently higher than the nation’s rate since 2008.

“I looked at the death records between the years of 2008 and 2017, so 10 years worth. And in Shawnee County we’ve lost 43 young people,” Shawnee County Epidemiologist Lein Le said.

Le said we may never truly know why, but gathered information about some of the recent crisis children were facing before their deaths.

“Family discord, a recent argument with parents, with their significant other, boyfriend, girlfriend,” she explained.

Others included drug and alcohol use, being a victim of bullying, and history of suicide by a friend or relative,” she said.

Le also said the method of death among youth varied.

“So the ages of 10 to 19 it’s an equal split between firearms and hanging. And among the older youths, so the 20 to 24, 50% of them died by firearms,” Le said.

Data show that from 2017 to 2018 there were 16 youth suicides in Shawnee County, but an even greater number of suicide related emergency room visits. The number of unreported self-harm incidents may be much larger.

Le said she wanted to bring awareness to this growing public health issue because a youth suicide can have an emotional impact on a community.

“It’s also the fact that we lose young talent,” she added.

Anyone needing support can call the National Suicide Prevention Life Line at 785.273.8255.