Preventing Youth Suicide
September 23, 2017
By Kirsti Olson, MS, PLPC,
Suicide Prevention Liaison
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is one death by suicide every 13 minutes.
Let’s put this into perspective. The average runner takes around 13 minutes to run a mile (quora.com). One mile…one life…13 minutes.
Suicide has become a hot topic of conversation within our nation lately. From Netflix shows to increased awareness in our own community, suicide prevention is present. Our community is hungry for more education and ways to combat suicide.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people ages 10-24 in the Kansas City metro region, with 78% of those deaths falling in the 18-24 year old age range and the majority being male.
In response to this problem, ReDiscover, a Lee’s Summit behavioral health center, is reaching out to youth ages 10-24 years old who are suffering from suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Amplified efforts are directed toward even narrower populations of this group who are even
more vulnerable. These particular populations are youth ages 18-24 years old, especially those
who are not currently enrolled in school, as well as youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ).
This program, named “Show Me Zero Youth Suicide”, is funded by a grant from the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It specifically works to reach these
at-risk youth and connect them to long-term services. The goal is to work with community
hospitals, emergency departments, schools and physician offices to increase the outreach for
these youth and build a support network around them so they do not fall through the cracks of
A suicide prevention team works to treat the youth holistically, often assisting them in applying
for jobs and aiding with developing life skills such as budgeting and nutritional meal planning,
while connecting youth to whatever long-term mental health services are needed for continued
As of August 2017 this team has worked with 161 youth in Jackson and Cass counties and is
steadily serving new youth each week. This program also allows the community, particularly
school districts and college campuses, access to a Suicide Prevention Liaison with expansive
knowledge of suicide prevention approaches. The liaison is able to train the staff on further
prevention and intervention tactics and assist them in implementation within their curriculum.
This program is just the beginning of a community wanting change.
To link to local suicide prevention resources,
please call the
Show Me Zero Youth Suicide Team
If you or someone you know have suicidal thoughts, call the local hotline at 1-888- 279-8188 or
reach out to the National Suicide Hotline toll-free at 1-800- 273-8255.
This article was written by Kirsti Olson, MS, PLPC, the Suicide Prevention Liaison at ReDiscover, and guest author for Lee’s Summit’s Health Education Advisory Board, a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board that promotes and advocates community health by assessing health issues, educating the public and government agencies, developing plans to address health issues, encouraging partnerships and evaluating
“Health is a state of complete mental, physical, and social wellbeing and not merely the
absence of disease and infirmity.” World Health Organization