Written by Dr. Mike Artman, Senior Vice President and Head of Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy


I’m here to tell you that there is a serial killer on the loose in Johnson County.

This killer strikes every 4-5 days. Every 4-5 days someone dies at the hands of this killer.

In the first nine months of this year[2017], January through September, he has taken 63 lives in Johnson County. Some of you may know some of these victims – they are our children, teens, and young adults.

What’s more, we know the identity of this serial killer – his name is suicide.

So instead of suicide, if we knew there was an individual wandering the streets of our community randomly killing our children at the rate of 1 or more each and every week, we would be outraged. We would be shouting for help from the rooftops. There would be a very intense and loud call to action.

So why aren’t we clamoring to put a stop to this killer called suicide? Why are we silent? Where is the outrage? Why are we ignoring this threat to our children and family members?

I think there are two reasons: one, we are ashamed. There is still a stigma associated with depression, anxiety, mental illness and ultimately taking one’s own life. Two, it’s a very complex issue without simple solutions. But we have to start somewhere, and that start is right here, right now, today.

Thanks to the courage of Kevin Timmons and his family, we are all engaged in this effort. Your contributions and proceeds from today’s event will go to fund a pilot project between mental health experts at Children’s Mercy and the Blue Valley School district to develop a school-based approach to suicide prevention. We are still working on the details, but it will involve social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists in the schools and accessible by telemedicine. We envision a multifaceted approach that combines education and access to mental health professionals with a single focus to prevent suicide. And this is just the beginning. We will learn from this pilot project so we can scale up these efforts and make a meaningful and sustained impact on this epidemic locally, regionally and beyond.

Today everyone can be a part of our call to action – please donate today.