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Mother Turns Personal Tragedy Into Suicide Awareness


Kansas City, MO – The holidays can be a difficult time for Bonnie Swade. Eight years ago this month, her son took his own life. Since then, Swade has founded the Suicide Awareness Survivor Support group of Missouri and Kansas, or SASS Mo-Kan. Swade, who's a retired high school counselor, also teaches suicide awareness sessions in classrooms throughout the area.

Several thousand young people around the country lose their lives to suicide each year - it's the third leading cause of death for youth. But Swade told KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross she never thought her family would be affected.

SASS Mo-Kan will be holding a remembrance service for those who have lost a loved one to suicide on Saturday, November 19, 2011 from 1 to 3pm at DW Newcomer's Sons Stine & MClure Chapel at 3235 Gillham Plaza.

Suicide rates vary greatly between races and cultures. It's more common among whites, but has been on the increase among African American and Latino teenagers. KCUR's Susan Wilson talked to local child psychiatrist Dr. Rekha Prassad about some of the factors that contribute to suicidal thinking, and how to protect your children.

For more information regarding suicide awareness and help in Kansas click here and in Missouri click here.For immediate help, call the national suicide lifeline at 1-800-237-8255.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
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