WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – They’re the two biggest counties in our state, and both are working to find a solution. It’s a campaign called #ZeroReasonsWhy.
After seeing a dramatic rise in teen suicides in Johnson County, superintendents of the six school districts came together to work towards a solution and created the campaign. The message is that there are zero reasons why the community can’t empower, educate, and advocate for teen mental wellness.
It is peer-led. Student ambassadors work to start the discussions in their high school and normalize mental health.
For student ambassador Omar Abdelmoity, he said it’s more than just another campaign.
“I was really close friends with this student, and they ended up taking their life to suicide last year,” said Abdelmoity. “It pushed me to be even more involved in this because I didn’t want to see another family have to go through that struggle.”
Anna Hamilton, another student ambassador from a different high school, said they did not openly discuss suicide after some classmates had taken their lives.
“Mental health kind of hits home for me. I’ve had my own personal struggles, but then seeing that in so many people that I’m close with is really hard,” said Hamilton.
The student ambassadors also work within the school district to change the ways the community and staff approach the conversation.
“Teen council members and student ambassadors also kind of work to have that active conversation within our schools, talking about that ourselves makes it a little more normal for the people around us,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton said with students involved, it allows them to understand how to approach the topic.
The campaign holds rallies and meetups, creates street teams, offers student and parent counseling, and gets the whole community involved.
Sedgwick County is looking to do the same. COMCARE of Sedgwick County is launching the campaign Wednesday, September 15th at 4:00 pm. It’s at the Cargill Learning Center at the Sedgwick County Zoo. It starts with an orientation session for local school district leadership.
The students said it’s something they are proud of.
“Our hope is that not just team suicide drops in Kansas or Wichita and Kansas City, but all over the country,” said Hamilton.
According to the press release from Johnson County, for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death. For every one suicide, an estimated 25 people attempt suicide.