TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – According to a report released Wednesday by the Kansas State Child Death Review Board — the suicide rate among children in Kansas continued a disturbing trend in 2018 with a nearly 10 percent increase over the previous year.
35 Kansas youth died by suicide in 2018, up from 32 in 2017. The 2018 rate was five youth suicides per 100,000 population, continuing a troubling trend in the youth suicide rate over the past decade, which stood at just 1.1 per 100,000 population a decade ago. In 2018, suicide accounted for 31 percent of all child deaths from age 1 to 17 years excluding natural causes, up from a four-year average of 22 percent from 2014 to 2017.
In June 2018, the Kansas Attorney General and the Tower Mental Health Foundation formed the Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force to survey efforts underway in Kansas to reduce the incidence of youth suicide and provide recommendations on further steps that could be taken. In 2019, the Legislature created the Kansas Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator to implement recommendations of the task force.
The State Child Death Review Board’s recently released annual report analyzes all child deaths that occurred in the calendar year 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. The overall child death rate in 2018 was 58.6 deaths per 100,000 population, an increase from what had been record-low rates reported the prior four years. The report showed that Kansas had 414 child fatalities in 2018, compared with 396 in 2017.
In addition to policy recommendations, the report includes prevention points that families can use to decrease the likelihood of a child’s death.
The board is a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency volunteer board organized by law within the Attorney General’s Office to examine trends and patterns that identify risk factors in the deaths of children, from birth through 17 years of age.
Anyone in need of crisis support can contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator is located in the Victim Services Division of the Office of the Attorney General and can be reached at 1-800-828-9475, or online at ag.ks.gov/victim-services.