Two Missouri Mental Health Providers Team Up to Reverse Suicide Trends in the Midwest.
Kansas City, MO, June 23, 2019 — Kansas City residents don’t need another barbecue or beer fest. They need mental health access. They need to come together collectively to fight stigma and suicide. They need to be reminded that life, despite setbacks, is worth celebrating and embracing. That is the vision behind Life Fest.
Signature Psychiatric Hospital is rallying therapists, schools and mental health agencies to come together to prevent suicides, which are plaguing Kansas City on both sides of the state line. The festival benefits Tri-County Mental Health Services, which provides affordable mental health care to more than 8,000 people a year in Clay, Platte and Ray counties.
From 1999 to 2016, Missouri reported a 30-40% increase in suicide rates, and Kansas saw a 45% increase, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression will be the #1 disability worldwide by 2020.
“The state of mind of our community and world is alarming,” said Lisa St. Aubyn, CEO of Signature Psychiatric Hospital. “We must respond now to the suicide epidemic and mental health crisis happening in our city.”
That’s why Signature is taking its team to the streets with Life Fest, a mental health awareness and suicide prevention event, Sept. 21, 2019, from noon to 6 p.m. at Mulberry Lake at The Villages of Briarcliff in Kansas City, Mo. Life (L.I.F.E.) Fest, an acronym for “Live, Inspire, Fight Suicide and Embrace Life,” will offer free on-site counseling from licensed clinicians for all ages, live music, art, yoga, meditation and a kids’ area. It is open to the public.
“Research shows if people can find help the first time they consider suicide, they are more likely to recover and never make another attempt,” St. Aubyn said. “We want Life Fest to be that lifeline. We will put the tools and mental health resources in the hands of those who need them. No insurance, no paperwork[JS1] , no money necessary.”
Top causes of suicide are relationship issues and financial woes. However, St. Aubyn said growth in the use of technology, which often replaces important face-to-face interactions, social media and gaming are possible contributors as well as the opioid epidemic and geographic location.
“Missouri and Kansas have large rural areas that tend to be more isolated without access to proper mental health care,” St. Aubyn said.
However, suicide crosses all ages, borders, incomes, races and professions. In fact, first responders are some of the most vulnerable. For the third straight year (2016-2018), suicide is the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths among police officers and firefighters. According to Blue H.E.L.P., 159 officers died by suicide in 2018, including three officers in Kansas and four officers in Missouri. The Kansas City Fire Department saw five firefights commit suicide in the past four years, according to Eric Rose of IAFF Local 42.
Life Fest’s counselors will be experienced in post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other mental health disorders affecting children, teens and adults.
Sponsors of the event thus far include Hy-Vee, the Global Warrior Center at Park University, the Valor Recovery Program. A portion of all sponsorship proceeds will go to Tri-County Mental Health Services, the premier provider of mental, behavioral and substance abuse care in Clay, Platte and Ray counties.
For more information on the event or sponsorships, visit www.lifefestkc.com or contact Brenda Clevenger at (816) 501-6042.
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