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'We can't agree to disagree': Experts, teens say mental health plays part in uptick of violent crime rates

Nathanial Greer
Posted at 5:40 PM, Feb 27, 2024

SHAWEE, Kan. — Violence is impacting many in the Kansas City area, and experts say mental health is playing part in the issue.

"The adults may feel like it’s getting worse, but to me it’s the same. To me, it’s Kansas City. Other people call it 'Killa City.' It's always been like that to me," said Nathanial Greer, a 19-year-old who attends the Lyrik’s Institution. “It feels regular; it seems regular when somebody dies or when they say three people die on the weekend; it’s kind of regular to me."

Tim DeWeese with the Johnson County Mental Health Center says people have lost the ability to control their emotions.

"Gun violence itself is a public health issue," DeWeese said. "We can't agree to disagree; we can’t say what we mean without being mean."

DeWeese adds that young people should be taught to manage those emotions.

"The harder part is actually having the mental capacity to understand that it takes a choice, that it's a choice to be kind," he said "That means that we are reacting from an emotional base."

According to Kansas City Chief of Police Stacey Graves, 67 of the 182 homicides from 2023 were a result of a dispute.

DeWeese says no matter what side of the state line, if people try to find ways to ground themselves during an argument, they might be able to turn the page and respond instead of react to conflict.

“The number one tool that we all have is our own breath. We can take a deep release of it and then choose wisely about how we want to respond," DeWeese said. "We have to make a decision to change the way that we think about approaching conflict and choose to be kind."