Aug 3, 2015
Preventing Suicide by Screenings

A Kansas City hospital is performing mental health screenings in its sports medicine department, after two Olathe Northwest (Kan.) High School soccer players committed suicide last November. The effort is part of a larger push by Children’s Mercy Hospital to prevent suicide in young people, with questionnaires going to all of their teen patients.  

“We’re finding we’re able to identify a lot of young people in advance so we can prevent suicides,” Dr. Shayla Sullivant, a psychiatrist at Children’s Mercy, told “I think that one of the myths is that suicide is not preventable. And that’s just wrong.”

One of the two Olathe Northwest players had been undergoing rehabilitation for a leg injury at Children’s Mercy, which is partly what prompted the hospital to expand the program to its sports medicine department. The questionnaires have so far found that two percent of teens have had or identify with suicidal thoughts. According to Sullivant, Missouri and Kansas have higher rates of suicide in teens compared to the national average, with eight percent of young people having attempted suicide in the past year.

“We need parents, teachers, pastors, coaches, we need really everyone to be able to put together a group effort so we can identify these young people that are at risk and do what we can to keep them safe,” Sullivant said.

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