TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Wabaunsee County leaders are holding a town hall Thursday night about suicide and mental health. This comes after five people died by suicide in Wabaunsee County in 2019.
Wabaunsee County Sheriff Rob Hoskins said he looked back through records and found that the county averaged three to five suicides each year.
“The national average for suicide is 16 per 100,000 people,” said Hoskins. “Wabaunsee County being less than 7,000 people, losing five citizens that puts us a little over 5 times the national average.”
The town hall meeting will include community leaders, school officials, clergy and mental health professionals. Wabaunsee USD 329 Superintendent Brad Starnes says he wants this to be a step toward ending the stigma around mental health.
“You may not have the answers to the questions but whether it’s clergy with God and church, whether it’s getting the therapy that you need, whether it’s drugs that you need to be taking, all those types of things to help with that mental illness,” said Starnes.
Starnes says that 9 percent of students surveyed in Wabaunsee County said they had attempted suicide before. Nearly a quarter said they’d seriously considered it.
The first town hall meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wabaunsee High School at 912 Missouri Avenue in Alma. The second town hall meeting will be at 7 p.m. on January 29 at Mission Valley High School at 12913 Mission Valley Road in Eskridge.