Teen Suicides: What we need to know
GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Monday, August 22
4:00 – 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
7039 Mission Road
The statistics from trusted research institutions are numbing:
- Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 24 in the U.S.
- Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide
- 9% have made an attempt to take their lives
Behind those frightening statistics is a great deal to learn. Dr. Shayla Sullivant, an adolescent psychiatrist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, will help us examine the rise in teen suicide rates and stress the importance of parents discussing the issue with their children when appropriate. It’s an especially timely topic in anticipation of National Suicide Awareness Month in September.
Dr. Sullivant, a long-time Grandparents mentor and supporter, will also describe her Prepped and Ready presentation that helps parents navigate the pre-teen and teen years and includes steps to recognize the risk factors of suicide.
“The things that make (young people) vulnerable are where they stand socially and where they stand developmentally,’ according to Dr. Carl Fleisher of UCLA Health in a report published in March. “Teachers and parents needn’t fear that talking about depression or suicide could somehow encourage self-harming behavior.”
Along with Dr. Sullivant, we’ll hear from Steve Lopes of Lawrence, a trained crisis volunteer who handles calls on the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Steve will share stories from his experience talking with callers.
This month also starts a new tradition: a short social time before each meeting begins. Come at 3:30 p.m. and visit with current GGS friends and make new ones, too. We welcomed 20 guests in July. The more who Stand With Us the better!
5,000 Locks Distributed & Still Going Strong
It was July 2017. The inflation rate was 2.2%, a gallon of gas cost an average $2.23, and Grandparents launched a new safety and educational program called Lock It For Love.
This summer LIFL celebrates its fifth anniversary and the successful distribution of 5,000 free, high-quality gun locks. Its goal? Help prevent injuries and deaths from suicides and accidental shootings by limiting access to unsecured, loaded guns in the home.
“I firmly believe those locks have saved lives, maybe a curious toddler or an impulsive teen or someone in crisis,” said Judy Sherry, founder and president of Grandparents. “It’s been our signature program and we feel a lot of pride in what it has accomplished.”
That’s reason for celebration! Join us during the pre-meeting social time at 3:30 p.m. to recognize key LIFL volunteers. Those who’ve devoted 30 hours or more to staffing LIFL events will receive special recognition.
“Every volunteer has played an important role in making this program a success,” said Barb McNeile, LIFL chair. “I’m extremely thankful for their dedication and willingness to share their time and energy.”
During LIFL’s five years, 88 trained volunteers have staffed LIFL tables at 180 different community events throughout the metro area. Volunteers have frequently been joined by an officer from one of the dozen police departments that partner with Grandparents to demonstrate proper use of the lock. During the pandemic, LIFL retooled its operation and kept distributing gun locks at various drive-through events.
LIFL was modeled after a program that began in 2012 by Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, a nonprofit based in St. Louis. Due to its success there, Grandparents explored the possibility of replicating the program here.
Early on Judy and Barb gained endorsements from then-Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO, the KCMO City Council, the KCMO Health Department, the KCMO Police Department and Children’s Mercy Hospital. Medical professionals (including Dr. Shayla Sullivant, this month’s speaker) have been among LIFL’s most enthusiastic proponents.
This month alone, LIFL has been invited to distribute locks at four community events. Volunteers are always needed! Simply contact Grandparents for Gun Safety.
July Program Recap
A record 70 attendees learned more about two vexing gun-related topics: how weapons can easily become even more deadly and why gun reform is so difficult to achieve.
Speakers Stephanie Clayton and John Ham.
John Ham of the Kansas City Field Office of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives discussed the ATF’s work, described assault-style rifles and explained how other firearms can be outfitted with additional equipment enabling them to function like an assault weapon. Kansas State Representative Stephanie Clayton outlined numerous gun reform bills that have been introduced in the Legislature with no progress made. With so much information to share, both John and Stephanie agreed to return for a future program. Watch July’s program here.
Read here for more information on assault-style weapons.
A record 70 people attended July’s informative program, including 20 guests.
$1.7 billion. That’s the combined estimated sales revenue generated the past 10 years from the sale of AR-15 assault-style weapons by the five leading gunmakers: Bushmaster Firearms International, Daniel Defense, SIG Sauer, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co., according to a new U.S. House of Representatives committee report.
– House Committee on Oversight and Reform
Couldn’t Do It Without These Volunteers of the Quarter
As our 9th annual Community Forum approaches, two devoted Grandparents volunteers were recognized at the July meeting for their exceptional efforts in producing the event.
Gail Roberson has been on the planning committee for the past two years and has spotted, recommended and then successfully engaged the Forum’s two most recent keynote speakers. Both have been featured in the national spotlight for their professional expertise: last year Dr. Megan Raney, a public health expert, and this year Connecticut attorney Josh Koskoff.
Gerald Hiller serves as the Forum’s technology guru. He’s given hours of his time and expertise ensuring Forum information is correct and in place on our website and that online registration goes smoothly for those who want to sponsor and attend the event.
Kansas City Mayor Added to Forum Speakers
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who was recognized last week as Gun Sense Lawmaker of the Year by Everytown for Gun Safety, will add remarks at the conclusion of our Community Forum on October 10.
Adding the Mayor completes the impressive speakers list, with of Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow welcoming attendees and attorney Josh Koskoff delivering the keynote address.
Along with providing valuable education to the community, the Forum is also Grandparents’ primary fundraising effort. Many individuals and organizations have already committed to attend and/or sponsor and single tickets are now available. This is a wonderful opportunity to invite a friend to join you at the Forum. Register or become a sponsor here.
Significant Progress: Assault Weapon Ban Passes U.S. House
Just before leaving for its month-long summer recess, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed HR 1808, which reinstates a federal ban on assault weapons that expired 18 years ago. The ban would criminalize the knowing sale, manufacture, transfer, possession or importation of many types of semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices. The proposed legislation is viewed as a much-needed response to recent mass shootings.
Because the bill passed along largely partisan lines (217-213), it’s unlikely to advance in the Senate.
Nonetheless, it’s a victory that acknowledges the desire for gun reform by a majority of the public. Paired with the Safer Communities Act approved earlier this summer by both the House and the Senate, the assault ban also proves the power of advocacy. Thousands of phone calls were made to gain co-sponsors and secure ‘yes’ votes.
Now would be a good time to thank our area representatives Sharice Davids (KS) and Emanuel Cleaver (MO) for supporting both bills.
Two Pictures are Worth 2,000 Words
Say Their Names
Following are another 21 lives lost to firearms in the metro area since our last newsletter. That brings the total to 137 homicides since January 1. We say their names while we keep true to our vision that one day everyone in our community will be safe from gun violence.
Mark Your Calendar
Tuesday, August 2
Monday, August 22
GGS Monthly Meeting and Program
Teen Suicides: What We Need to Know
4:00 to 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road
Plan to come at 3:30 and enjoy the special social time celebrating the 5th Anniversary of Lock It For Love. And bring a friend with you!
Monday, October 10
9th Annual Community Forum: Advocacy: The Time is NOW!
9:00 to 11:30 am
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road
All members of our community have the right to feel safe from gun violence.
We focus on working for solutions, educating the community and seeking common ground reform that respects the rights of gun owners and non-owners alike.