More than 800,000 individuals die by suicide in the United States every year. In Missouri, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.

Too often, people aren't aware of the prevalence of suicide, aren't educated about the signs and symptoms, and don't know how to talk to people about suicide. This year Smithville is coming together as a community to provide education and activities that will raise awareness and decrease the stigma around the issue. Celebrate Life, is the theme for our First Annual Smithville Suicide Prevention and Awareness week, September 8-14.

"Saint Luke's North Hospital's Behavioral Health program is partnering with the Smithville Chamber, City Government, the School District, and the community to shine the light on suicide," said Deb Wriedt, Director of Behavioral Health at Saint Luke's Health System. "It is a significant public health problem and the leading cause of death in the United States."

The effects of suicide go way beyond the person who takes their own Life. Suicide has a lasting effect on families, friends, and community.

"Personally, my life has been impacted by the suicide of my grandmother when I was in grade school, a friend's son two years ago and a classmate of mine just this past year," said Smithville Mayor Damien Boley. "We need to come together as a community to raise awareness about suicide and support one another."

For people age 15-34, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death, and in this age group, the highest suicide rate is in the 18-24-year-old range.

"After 25 years of working in public schools, I have unfortunately been involved in the aftermath of several adolescent suicides," said Todd Schuetz, Ed. D., Superintendent of Schools, Smithville R-II School District. "Each suicide cuts a little deeper as, like school officials across the country, we grapple with a means to eradicate these tragic events. We must do everything within our power to support our young people as they deal with their pain and help them understand the permanence of ending a life."

Celebrate Life's scheduled events, and activities will focus on starting the conversation with each other about suicide, reducing the stigma of mental illness, hearing testimonials from Moms and Dads who have lived through a child's suicide, and providing some training for the community on how to respond to people in need.

"By working together, we can develop a comprehensive safety net that includes prevention, early intervention, and support for those struggling, have attempted or has lost someone to suicide," said Wriedt.

Join us in Celebrating Life.

Calendar of Activities, Education, and Presentations:

Sunday, September 8

  • Suicide Awareness Survivor Support (SASS) 16th Annual Remembrance Walk
    • When: 9 am
    • Where: Loose Park – 51st St. & Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO 64113
  • Community Worship Service commemorating suicide awareness and prevention

Monday, September 9

  • Presentation by “Moms Breaking the Silence”, a group of mothers that have experienced firsthand the heartache and pain of suicide

Tuesday, September 10

  • Mental Health and Compassion Fatigue – Saint Luke’s North Hospital - Smithville therapists and mental health professionals will hold a panel discussion for city hall staff
  • Compassion Fatigue Discussion – Josh Krasovec from The Battle Within will hold an informal talk for first responders

Wednesday, September 11

  • Chamber of Commerce Luncheon – Alderman Jeff Bloemker will address Chamber members on his personal experience during 911 and how he coped.
  • Perceptions of a Suicide Survivor, presented by Dr. Steven Arkin

Friday, September 13

  • Presentation: How to Talk About Suicide – The Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Method. Q&A with therapists and counselors will follow the presentation

Saturday, September 14

  • Candlelight Remembrance Walk – One mile walk from downtown to Heritage Park to remember those that have been lost to suicide, and to create awareness
  • Saturday in the Square – Movie screening of the film Inside Out, a computer-animated comedy about how human emotions affect interpersonal relationships