WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Breaking the stigma around mental health and bullying is a growing focus with the launching of the “Zero Reasons Why” campaign in 8 school districts across Sedgwick County, and Comcare hopes this new program will help prevent suicide attempts in young adults.
The program began three years ago in Johnson County after a superintendent saw a spike in suicide attempts in the district. It made a big impact there, and the executive director of Comcare said she hopes to see a difference in Sedgwick County too.
“I’ve been bullied my whole life. I’ve been called names that I didn’t appreciate,” said Morgan Nguyen, a student at West High School.
“My aunt had ended up killing herself almost four years ago. And so it’s very impactful to me,” said Cheyenne Qualls, another student at West High School.
It’s a hard topic for young adults, but Executive Director of Comcare Joan Tammany said having the conversation makes a difference.
“Not only now, are you talking about bullying, but you’re talking about suicide prevention? I mean, wow, those are two of the biggest taboo subjects, predominantly for adults because it’s scary. And here you have youth who are willing to wear us a banner around their neck to say, you know when you called me this, and it’s the same thing,” said Joan Tammany, about West High School’s “Words Hurt Campaign” that launched earlier this week prior to “Zero Reason’s Why.”
Tammany said breaking down barriers and starting conversations is the goal of the student-led campaign. “Zero Reasons Why” is launching in eight school districts in the county this month. She said suicide attempts have doubled in recent years. So have hospitalizations for youth.
“Numbers right now are very high. We have 84 youths admitted to the hospital in December. 84 that’s an unacceptable number of youth struggling,” said Tammany.
One counselor at West High School said students are ready to help.
“The students want to talk about the hard issues they want to deal with the mental health issues that are going on, and then they see with other people,” said Jill Terhune, a counselor at West High School.
The new program will be holding its first orientation next month for students. Leaders with “Zero Reasons Why” say they hope to have 30 student leaders from each school.