Opinion | Wabaunsee County needs to come together after 2019 tragedies

‘Not One More’ forums focus on suicide prevention

— Kendyl Bolinder, @Bolinderkendyl

Wabaunsee County tragically lost five of its citizens to suicide in 2019, sparking a change in the way Wabaunsee Sherrif Rob Hoskins hopes to tackle mental health awareness. 

“We had a rough couple of weeks. It was rough on my staff, it was rough on the emergency responders, it was rough on me personally, and I know the families involved, it was devastating and terrible for them. Afterwards, I felt that something needed to be done,” Hoskins said. 

On January 16, the Wabaunsee County Sheriff’s Department hosted an open forum meeting at the high school called “Not One More,” sponsored by the Wabaunsee County Mental Health Task Force. This was created as a time for the community to come together, learn, and heal. 

Mission Valley will get to have a similar meeting for the community tonight, with a presentation about the dangers of social media from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., and suicide awareness from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Child care and concessions will be available. 

Sheriff Rob kicked off the meeting by sharing some shocking statistics. The Wabaunsee County 911 center received 16 calls of reported suicide attempts in 2019, five of which were successful, making our county’s average nearly five times the national average.

Mental health professionals from Crosswinds Counseling and Wellness, as well as school counselors and case managers gave a brief presentation on warning signs and risk factors of mental illness and depression, and discussed resources they have available and instructed people on how they can access them and get help. 

Superintendent Brad Starnes shared the distressing story about his own personal experience dealing with the loss of a loved one to suicide, and Pastor Bob Grimm gave his take on the stigma around mental health and what we can do to help.

Nearly 200 people attended the meeting, which was an astonishing turnout. 

Sheriff Rob stated he was “pleasantly surprised and humbled” by the amount of people there.

I also spoke at the meeting, on behalf of the WHS Yellow Ribbon club, on the importance of youth and community involvement in suicide prevention.

The club handed out grab bags filled with resources and ways for people to get help. It is also putting on Wabaunsee’s first Yellow Out game on Tuesday, February 11 to help raise awareness. 

This meeting was a great way for the community to come together. For too long, suicide and mental illness have been something that so many people are afraid to talk about, or they don’t fully understand it. The meeting was a great way for people of all ages to learn more about the physiological aspects of mental illness, and break away from the negative stigma surrounding it. 

It is so important for the members of our communitkes to be there for one another through these times, and work together to take on suicide prevention.

One thought on “Opinion | Wabaunsee County needs to come together after 2019 tragedies

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  1. Very glad we are talking about and overcoming the stigma associated with mental health. Great job by all involved. Especially proud of you Kendyl and all the students work on the Yellow Ribbon Club! It will take students to help solve student issues. Respectfully

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