Legislature approved a bill that will create a Kansas Youth Suicide Prevention coordinator who will implement recommendations of the Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force. 

Attorney General Derek Schmidt commended Legislation for the creation of the position.

“The Legislature took an important step to stem the rising number of child and teen suicides in Kansas by establishing a Kansas Youth Suicide Prevention coordinator,” Schmidt said. “I am grateful the Legislature is giving serious attention to the Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force recommendations.”

In 2016, the number of youth suicides in Kansas was 20 at a rate of 3.0 deaths per 100,000 population. Based on statistics, this rate has increased since 2005, which had eight suicides at a rate of 1.1 deaths per 100,000 population.

“I intend to appoint a coordinator who will give this serious and important problem the attention and leadership it requires,” Schmidt said. “Kansas needs to change that trend line so the number of youth suicides stops increasing and instead begins to decline.”

The Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force was formed in June 2018 by Schmidt and the Tower Mental Health Foundation in an effort to survey practices in Kansas being implemented to reduce youth suicide and provide resources and recommendations on further steps to be taken. 

The new coordinator will be required to:

  • Lead the development, implementation and marketing of a website, online application and mobile phone application to facilitate communication with youth for the purpose of preventing youth suicide and promoting youth safety and well-being.
  • Develop and promote multidisciplinary and interagency strategies to help communities, schools, mental health professionals, medical professionals, law enforcement and others work together and coordinate efforts to prevent and address youth suicide.
  • Organize events that bring together youth, educators and community members from across the state to share information and receive training to prevent and address youth suicide in their communities.
  • Gather, disseminate and promote information focused on suicide reduction.

Members of the task force that recommended the actions included in the legislation were:

  • Prof. Jennifer Schmidt (co-chair), Clinical Associate Professor of Law, University of Kansas
  • Dr. Andy Tompkins (co-chair), interim president, Wichita State University
  • Senator Molly Baumgardner, chair, Senate Education Committee
  • Kearny County Deputy Sheriff Randy Combs, past president, Kansas Juvenile Officer Association
  • Dr. Leo Herrman, Associate Professor of Psychology, Ft. Hays State University
  • Representative Russ Jennings, chair, House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee
  • Kathryn Mosher, MS MBA, executive director, Central Kansas Mental Health Center
  • Dorthy Stucky Halley, director of Victims Services Division, Office of the Kansas Attorney General
  • Dr. Randy Watson, commissioner of Education