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435 Magazine: The Teen Suicide Epidemic in Kansas City

 By Sherry Kuehl

If you talk with an area high school student and inform them that teen suicide in the Kansas City metro is at an all-time high, they’ll probably respond with “tell me something I don’t know.” They’re on the front lines, living every day with the loss of friends and classmates while fearing who might be next.

Suicide among young people is now the second leading cause of death behind accidents in Kansas and Missouri. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows an almost 70 percent spike in teen suicides from 2006 to 2016. One in six high school students say they have seriously considered suicide within the last year. National pediatric research points to a doubling of the number of children and adolescents admitted to hospitals for thoughts of suicide or self-harm during the previous decade. Local health care professionals and educators are calling it an epidemic.

As for why the increase in teen suicides in the metro, there’s no concrete answer. The huge influence of social media is often cited as a contributing factor and studies show that there is a correlation between screen time and anxiety. Pediatric psychologists also point to hearing from teenagers that they feel a constant demand on them to excel and that for some, “failing is worse than death.”

Teen suicide does not discriminate. Locally in the past year, star athletes, academic achievers, class clowns, the girl next door and kids who wrote about being bullied in the notes they left behind, have all taken their lives. Dr. Sarah Soden M.D., Children’s Mercy Division Director of Developmental & Behavioral Sciences, says, “We all have to keep stepping up to the plate. This is an acute situation.”


Read the full article via 435 Magazine 

Learn more about the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences at Children's Mercy.