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Suicide Rate Climbs by 30 Percent in Kansas as Government Slashes Mental Health Budgets

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by Nick Haines | KCPT News October 23, 2013

Kansas City, MO – The Nation, the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States this week picks up the story of an alarming increase in the Kansas suicide rate.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently released a startling report showing a 30 percent increase in suicides from 2011. Nationwide, the number of deaths by suicide recently surpassed the number of deaths by motor vehicle accidents.

An online story in The Nation tracks how mental health cuts in the Sunflower state have skyrocketed at the same time mental health services have been cut.

Since 2009, a community health center in Sedgwick County, KS has lost 53 percent of its state funding, according to Marilyn Cook, executive director of Comcare of Sedgwick County. She told The Wichita Eagle the county is trying to appeal to the state to replace some of that money.

“This is a community problem and a public health problem, not just a mental health problem,” Cook said. “Treatment dollars have gone down and more and more people are coming to us, a growing number without any other payment for services.”

KCPT special correspondent Sam Zeff recently tracked a spike in suicides in Johnson County where experts theorize financial challenges are proving too much for boomers accustomed to a successful and prosperous life. The rates of suicide in Kansas and Missouri continue to be above the national average.

In the metro, we have seen suicides rise 38 percent in Jackson County, MO in the last ten years, 38 percent in Clay County, 50 percent in Cass County and 66 percent in Platte county.

If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, there is a number to call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357).

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