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Suicide Prevention Workshop Encourages Teens, Parents To Talk About Depression

The family of a Shawnee Mission West student  who committed suicide in 2011 is holding a workshop Monday night for teens and their parents to talk about depression.

Joe Karlin created the Tom Karlin Foundation in memory of his 17-year-old son.

When it comes to teen suicide prevention, "the biggest thing is not so much a resource issue but the stigma that surrounds depression and mental health," says Karlin.

He says there's help available for teens, but many are afraid to admit they're contemplating suicide. And parents are often the last to know their child is struggling.

"We had a focus group of teens together, and we asked them, 'What can we do to open the lines of communication between you and your parents?'" says Karlin. "And they said, 'Really, I don't know if there's anything because the last people we're going to tell are our parents.'"

But Karlin wants teens to open those lines of communication with their parents. The workshop, set for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19 at the Heartland Community Church in Olathe, Kan., will feature separate sessions for adolescents and their parents.

Karlin says a therapist will also work with teens so they know what to do if their friends mention depression or suicide.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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