Lee's Summit mental health center uses out-of-box approach to suicide prevention

Federal grant pays for program
Posted at 2:28 PM, Oct 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-05 15:28:30-04

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A Lee’s Summit mental health center says a non-traditional approach is stopping young people from committing suicide. 

Exactly one year ago, Rediscover launched the “Show Me Zero Youth Suicide” program. It targets people between the ages of 10 and 24 living in Jackson and Cass counties that show signs of being at risk of suicide. 

Program Director Kirsti Olson explained that her counselors meet patients at coffee shops, smoothie shops and other public places. She said young people find it easier to talk about suicide when they’re in a familiar place instead of an office. 

“We can have that conversation in real time and it doesn’t feel like it's posed in force. It's just two people chatting about issues we have the skills to help you with,” Olson said. 

Counselors have turned to social media to reach the youth they target. Rediscover launched the hashtag "#RediscoverThePurpose" in Sept. 

Olson said there is often a long wait between the time a school or hospital refers a person to long-term care and the time they visit a specialist. The Show Me Zero campaign works to fill that void.

“A lot of times what happens is they are referred to long-term treatment, and maybe they're going to make it to that appointment, but it's a nine week wait, or a nine month wait. So in the meantime, what do you do? That's where we come in,” Olson explained.

Rediscover offers job development and tutoring to help youth in the program find a purpose to live. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is an agency within U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides Rediscover with a grant to run the program. Rediscover will receive $288,000 each of the next four years. 

Olson said the money goes use because suicide is the second leading cause of death in the Kansas City metro for people between the ages of 10 and 24. 

“I feel like we don’t really tire because we have that motivation, hear those success stories. We see people doing well and it fills your happy bucket back up like, ‘This is why I do this,’” Olson said. 

For information on the suicide prevention program, call Rediscover at 816-347-3052, or click here. 

“It's completely OK to not be OK. It's just not OK to not ask for help,” Olson added.