SBR: Task force works on suicide prevention

By Rob Gilligan, rgilligan@kasb.org

In June, The Tower Mental Health Foundation and Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced the formation of a joint task force to survey efforts under way in Kansas to reduce the incidence of youth suicide and recommend by year’s end further steps that could be taken.

The attorney general asked the task force to focus on three specific tasks and to produce a report by the end of the year. Those areas are:

  • Surveying ongoing local and state efforts to combat youth suicide through the State of Kansas.
  • Reviewing the Safe2Tell phone application and similar methods aimed at increasing communication with youth needing assistance and effective reporting of stressors on young people.
  • Making recommendations for changes in practice, policy or law aimed at preventing youth suicide in Kansas.

Over the last four months, the Task Force has met in Topeka, Salina, Iola and Wichita to take testimony and receive information from a range of local and national groups and individuals that focus on Suicide Prevention, Suicidology study and Mental Health Services.

The fifth meeting of the Task Force was scheduled Oct. 18 where the presenters were to include: Clark Flatt, President, The Jason Foundation, Inc.; Rep. Steve Eliason, Utah House of Representatives; and Carey Spain, Director, Social Work Care Continuum, Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Johnson County superintendents and students will also review their coalition efforts to address mental health and suicide among their student population.

The task force has scheduled two more meetings to conclude their work, first in Dodge City on Nov. 9, then concluding in Topeka on Dec. 10 when the task force will draft its final report and recommendations for the Attorney General.

Additional details regarding the task force, including its membership, opportunities to submit written testimony or to testify at one of the final meetings can be found at www.ag.ks.gov/ysptf or by calling (800) 828-9745.

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