Wyandotte County among recipients of $3.6 million youth suicide prevention grant

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced a $3.6 million federal grant will benefit 13 Kansas counties...
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced a $3.6 million federal grant will benefit 13 Kansas counties in preventing youth suicides.(AP Photo/John Hanna)
Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 3:45 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced today that 13 counties will benefit from the more than $3.6 million federal grant aimed at curbing youth suicides and implementing early intervention strategies..

The program hopes to reduce suicides and suicidal ideation in young Kansans aged 10-24 by reaching at-risk Kansans through schools, the juvenile justice system, foster care, education initiatives substance abuse programs and mental health programs.

The announcement comes after last year the Kansas Health Institute found the state had the tenth highest youth suicide rate for adolescents aged 15-24, and ranked 11th in youth suicide for those aged 10-14.

Most of the counties set to benefit from the grant are located in Southeast Kansas, but Wyandotte County will also receive funding. The Southeastern counties include Allen, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Crawford, Elk, Greenwood, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson Counties.

“Mental health is health, and it’s critical we treat it as such,” U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, an Overland Park Democrat, said. “Through this new programming, we can help reach kids who are struggling and ensure they are supported and cared for. I’m proud to have helped bring these much-needed resources home to create healthy, resilient communities in Wyandotte County and across Kansas.”

The funding, which comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a part of a five-year federal initiative to prevent youth suicide and instill early intervention techniques. The $3.6 million, awarded to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, will be allotted in accordance with recommendations and strategies developed by national organizations such as the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said the new program aims to:

  • Strengthen and broaden public communication efforts about risk and protective factors for suicide;
  • Improve suicide risk recognition among youth organizations and professionals by increasing connections to culturally sensitive, consumer-responsive treatment services;
  • Evaluate, develop, and implement evidence-based suicide screenings at behavioral health care and educational sites;
  • Implement and enhance safety net support, including the creation of safety plans and referrals to treatment;
  • Expand access to suicide post-intervention counseling by providing training;
  • Improve statewide capacity to collect and analyze data related to suicide prevention efforts, and suicide morbidity/mortality.

“Improving mental health in every community, including among our youngest Kansans, is essential to creating a healthy, thriving Kansas,” Kelly said. “This funding will further our efforts to reduce suicide rates by providing support and resources for Kansans in crisis.”