I recorded today’s episode on efforts to reduce and prevent youth suicide with University of Kansas School of Law Professor Jennifer Schmidt last Wednesday, 3/20. Just days later we learned that one survivor of the Parkland school shooting took committed suicide. Then another Parkland survivor took their life. And then news broke that a parent of a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting committed suicide as well. Three suicides in one week. If you think you need help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). It’s free to call, and your conversation is confidential.
It is generally nice when the conversations that I’m fortunate enough to have are timely and relevant to current events. But not like this. What has happened over the past week is nothing short of an absolute tragedy. There is a much broader conversation to be had about mental health issues and the mental health services and supports – or lack thereof – that exists for survivors of mass shootings and other traumatic events that are a part of modern society, but that is both another episode and a much longer conversation than the 40-minute talk I had with Professor Schmidt.
All that said, there really isn’t a much better time to highlight the work Professor Schmidt has done and is doing to prevent youth suicide in Kansas. She recently led a statewide task force to examine the causes of the suicide epidemic in Kansas and is currently advocating for new tools and services to be implemented to help address the crisis.
To see the task force’s recommendations, you can read the Kansas Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force State Report from December 2018. You can also keep up with Professor Schmidt’s work more generally by visiting her University of Kansas School of Law Faculty page.
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