KSHB 41: AT&T teams up with local nonprofits to combat teen suicide
By Jordan Betts
AT&T announced Wednesday that it has joined forces with local nonprofits to support initiatives that enhance youth mental health and combat teen suicide.
The announcement came as Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office released a report that said deaths by suicide for children in the state rose 50% from 2016 to 2017.
AT&T "will promote awareness and generate support around youth issues and suicide prevention in Kansas and Missouri" in addition to donating "more than $300,000 to organizations that support programs impacting youth in the Kansas City metropolitan area," according to press release announcing the Believe Kansas City program.
Smart phones may play a significant role in the rise of youth suicide rates. A 2017 NPR report found that teens who spend five or more hours per day on a smart phone are 71% more likely to have at least one risk factor of suicide.
"I think kids are under a ton of pressure these days," Children's Mercy Hospital Child Psychiatrist Dr. Shayla Sullivant said. "They have access to each other in a way we never did growing up. With social media, it's hard to sometimes just turn it off and have a little bit of peace."
AT&T acknowledged that cell phones can be addicting and have been linked to depression, which is why the company feels compelled to get involved in the community.
Meanwhile, Sullivant encourages parents to be more proactive when it comes to monitoring teen phone usage and to be open about suicide.
"What we want kids to know is that there is hope," Sullivant said. "There is no situation too terrible that we couldn't help you with."
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Learn more about Developmental and Behavioral Health at Children's Mercy