WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The state of Kansas has seen increasing rates of suicide, ranking fifth in the nation for increased suicide deaths, which has Wichita organizations emphasizing the need for awareness on World Mental Health Day.
On Thursday, Oct. 10 the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas placed 101 flags outside of its office building. The purple and blue flags represent the people who lost their lives by suicide in Wichita in 2018.
The association says they did this to honor the people who lost their lives, but also to spread awareness of the increase in suicide rates.
“We were trying to think of a great way to recognize not just the stigma against mental health, but just to recognize mental health in general,” said Shawna Allen, Director at Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.
According to the World Health Organization, 450-million (one out of four people) experience a mental illness that can be diagnosed or treated.
Worldwide, 800,000 people die by suicide each year – one every 40 seconds, which makes it the second leading cause of death among young people (aged 15 to 29), the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. The organization is taking this year’s World Mental Health Day to spotlight suicide prevention.
Thursday afternoon, COMCARE of Sedgwick County Suicide Prevention Coalition participated in a two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) at WSU.
The participants were learning what to look for and how to intervene to save a life from suicide.
“It works through an intervention model that you can apply to any persons at risk,” said Deidre Manis, Program Manager at COMCARE of Sedgwick County. “First of all, identifying who those persons are, asking that question, and then being able to help that person look towards safety and look towards living.”
The participants role played to determine what stage of distress their participating counterpart was in and the other group members provided feedback and assistance.
A Wichita firefighter who was participating in the training says his wife took the exercise and recommended that he take it.
“Every time someone calls 911, we never know what we are getting into. Being able to respond to someone who has mental illness or someone whose in crisis, you know that’s really important,” said Chris Fleming, Wichita Fire Department Captain. “Being able to turn around and then support our own people through the trauma we’ve seen is really important.”
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255 or text CONNECT to 741741.
For more information on ASIST you can visit: kansassuicideprevention.org.
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