suicide | KCUR

suicide

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — The number of suicides in northwest Kansas increased by more than half in recent years.

Firearm Deaths Hold Steady After Record-Setting 2017

Jan 30, 2020
James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A near-record number of Americans died by gunshot in 2018 according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to a CDC spokesperson, nearly 40,000 people died by firearm in America, including suicide, homicide and accidents. The rate of firearm deaths dipped slightly between 2017 and 2018, going from 12 to 11.9 per 100,000 people.

Segment 1: A hopeful billboard has a story behind it.

When artist Nicole Leth lost her father to suicide, she told herself she would focus all her energy on spreading positivity. Now a billboard in Kansas City stands testament to that promise.

  • Nicole Leth, artist

Segment 2: A Kansas City musician rocks the violin in her new EP.

Army veteran Lynn Rolf III, and Boomer, his dog. Rolf was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq.
Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Lynn Rolf III owns a lot of guns, but only one makes him stop and think whenever he sees it.

“I’ve had conversations with one of my pistols numerous times about how easy it would be to put it in the mouth,” he said. “Pretty one-sided.”

Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC

Public health researchers across the U.S. are eager to find possible solutions to gun violence. Gun ownership data helps researchers study how guns are used in various crimes and could reveal opportunities for preventing firearm-related deaths. But there is no federal registration requirement for guns. And without concrete numbers of gun ownership, how can researchers pin down the problem?

Preventing Teen Suicide

Mar 29, 2019

Suicide rates among teenagers are higher than the national average in both Kansas and Missouri, according to the Center for Disease Control. This issue was named a "public health crisis" by Dr. Kimberly O'Brien, and while the statistics are only part of the story, the problem seems to be getting worse. 

Brian Ellison hosts a panelled discussion with experts from around the country to address this. KCUR in partnership with American Public Square brings you Lifelines: Preventing Teen Suicide. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

In 2017 in Missouri,  75 children and teenagers killed themselves — the most on record, according to an analysis of the most recent available data for the state.

That same year in Kansas, 99 young people took their own lives. Another record.

Simplistic crisis plans and missing mandatory training by some Kansas schools led the Kansas Board of Education on Tuesday to reinforce its suicide prevention requirements.

Suicide rates in the United States have been going up for years, but the rates have risen faster in Kansas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Kansas suicide rate increased by 45 percent from 1999 to 2016.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Rates of youth suicide are higher in states with high gun ownership, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers studied 10 years of teenage suicide rates and found that gun ownership "is a factor that really is highly predictive for what the youth suicide rate is going to be," said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and one of the paper's authors.

Courtesy / Creative Commons

The merriment and mirth it's assumed we experience during the holiday season can lead to disappointment, anxiety and, in some cases, depression.

The American Psychological Association reports that the expectation of  “gift-giving, decorating, feasting and family gathering" can lead to holiday-related stress or the "holiday blues."

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Bella Price was blindsided when a good friend at Spring Hill High School took his own life. 

She had every reason to believe Josh Hoston, a great student and athlete, was looking forward to freshman year as much as she was. 

She was equally shocked when another classmate killed himself the following summer.

African American Chris Harris seated in front of a KCUR microphone wearing headphones during his interview.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: A rise in teen suicide has led to a Johnson County, Kansas, school district to make a change. 

The Signs of Suicide initiative, a nation-wide program that school systems can opt into, has been implemented in some Olathe schools this year. It administers a mental health survey to students as a preventive measure against suicide. So far, five high schools have completed training and administrators say the program has already saved lives.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Sounds like …

Parents of dyslexic children have long pitched for a dramatic change to reading instruction and the extra teaching help needed to accommodate brains wired a little differently.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen weighs in this week with a story about how they’re on the verge of a breakthrough in Kansas that could bring more phonics-grounded reading instruction for all kids.

Jeanette Jones wearing headphones and seated at a microphone in the KCUR studio.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: American Public Square panelists agree on securing firearms in the home and little else during conversation on ways to prevent children dying from gun violence. 

Though Lindsey Doolittle is an art teacher, she never imagined she’d have her own exhibition. Nor did she imagine writing a book that’s now on permanent display at the Van Gogh Museum Library in Amsterdam.

The public speaking tour has been a surprise, too.

But this is her new normal since her husband, Brett, killed himself in 2015.

Donald and Laurie Draughon

When a federal judge decided in July that the Veterans Health Administration was liable for the death of an Iraq veteran who was treated at the VA and later killed himself, it was thought to be one of the few instances nationwide where the VA has been held directly responsible for a veteran’s suicide.

Now the federal government is appealing that verdict.

A notice of appeal filed Wednesday said the United States is seeking review of the judgment by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson, as well as her findings of fact and conclusions of law.

CC -- Bigstock

By working with neighboring school districts and community health partners, Olathe Superintendent John Allison thinks Johnson County might actually be able to change the conversation on teen suicide.

“Each of the Johnson County school districts has taken a little different approach,” Allison says. “I think that’s been key to our conversation that started last spring, is to learn from each other to try to see what’s worked and at the same time to blend our limited resources to best support each other.”

Segment 1: New York fashion icon kept Kansas City roots.

The death of fashion designer Kate Spade touched a nerve here locally. We speak with a local reporter who met Spade and remembers her as being very much Kansas Citian.

Segment 2, beginning at 15:01: Research on suicide prevention is progressing.

Sophia Tulp / KCUR 89.3

Mental health advocates are urging parents to watch for suicide warning signs as school lets out for summer.

“The first thing that we have to do is be okay and comfortable with even saying the word suicide,” said Kevin McGuire, co-chair of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition told the crowd gathered Tuesday for a panel discussion on mental health.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

  Segment 1: Missouri State Auditor on what she counts as legislative victories in this year's regular session.

This past legislative session, Missouri lawmakers passed a law that strengthens protections for so-called "whistleblowers." Today, the Missouri state auditor told us why she pushed for this legislation, and what the implications are for state workers. We also learned why Gov. Eric Greitens' move to use taxpayer dollars to pay for private attorneys has her concerned.  

DanaWelsch / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: What is tax increment financing, and what are its drawbacks?

Tax increment financing districts, known as TIFs, have been a significant tool in Kansas City's development. But could they hurt communities as much as they helps them? In this first of a two-part series on the effects of TIFs, we took a look at opposition to the measures.

Donald and Laurie Draughon

After a seven-month deployment in 2004 in Iraq as a squad leader and gunner, Cpl. William P. Draughon received a citation for heroic service and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps.

Several members of his squad were killed in Iraq, and when he returned stateside, the North Kansas City High School graduate began experiencing depression and nightmares and became withdrawn and moody. He also started drinking heavily.

Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law

When it comes to immigration enforcement in this country, a person's fate can be a little "luck of the draw." Is it fair to send away some people who have been living here for years, while letting others stay? Today, Up To Date's Ethics Professors gives us their take on that and two other tough and timely questions. With an investigation swirling around Missouri's governor, how important is it to honor the anonymity request of an involved, but private, citizen?

Public Domain / Pixabay-CC

Perfectionism, bullying, depression and social media are a few of the stressors teens constantly face in today's society. As the number of teen suicides in Kansas City reach record levels, we speak with school councilors and health experts to learn why rates are climbing in the metro and how to help prevent suicides.

But first, a discussion on undeveloped land in suburban areas. What happens when the desire to turn unused land into roads and schools collides with the desire to keep things natural?

Guests:

Jake William Heckey / Pixabay-CC

Looking back, this year was slammed with national news: tropical storms, wildfires, protests and even Twitter wars. But plenty happened here in Kansas City, too! So before entering a new year, we check in with community newspapers to learn about the important local stories of 2017.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Lee’s Summit North High School dismissed early Friday after a 17-year-old girl died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a school bathroom.

The school was briefly under lockdown after students heard gunshots at 7:50 a.m. and Lee’s Summit Police responded.  The girl, a senior whom KCUR is not identifying, was taken to a local hospital where she died.

Courtesy of Kristen Oehlert

Alice Snodgrass was worried about her friend Nicki Alexopoulos. Worried about a threat from within her family.

“When she went silent, when she wasn't on Facebook, that was an indication that something was wrong,” Snodgrass says.

So, she drove 200 miles to check on Nicki. But as the two of them were catching up in the living room of Nicki’s home in Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood, the “threat” showed up at the door. Nicki’s 38-year-old son, Patrick Alexopoulos, barged in with a 9 mm gun and a demand.

Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons

After the Civil War, violence and crime continued in the Missouri Ozarks, highlighted by gun fights, murders and lynchings. Today, we learn about that region's "Wild West" years and the vigilantes who prowled the territory. Then, Ryan O'Callaghan grappled for years with suicidal thoughts and hiding his homosexuality.

Drive down a dirt road in Dallas County, under a thick canopy of walnut trees and over three cattle guards, and you’ll come to Rachel Harrison’s home in Windyville, Missouri.  

A few years ago, Harrison was using her Bachelor’s degree in biology in a hospital laboratory.

“I was a generalist, which means I was in charge of urinalysis, chemistry, special chemistry, hematology, blood banking, coagulation, I think I got it all—phlebotomy, all that kind of stuff,” Harrison said.

But at age 25, she began to hear what sounded like people talking.

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