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Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton - Youth Mental Health

Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton discusses youth mental health and suicide prevention.
Season 14 Episode 31 Length 26:32 Premiere: 06/02/19

Jenean Hampton’s Advocacy for Youth Suicide Prevention

The old joke is that the job of a lieutenant governor is to check the governor’s pulse every morning.

In reality, Kentucky’s lieutenant governor has limited constitutional and statutory responsibilities, but that allows the lieutenant governor to shape her or his own job descriptions in partnership with the governor.

Jenean Hampton, the state’s 57th lieutenant governor, has made young people a focus of her official duties. She’s visited more than 150 schools around the commonwealth to share her inspiring personal story. And she’s launched special projects that encourage students to engage in literacy and entrepreneurial activities.

“This has been an opportunity to serve like I never imagined,” says Hampton. “[Gov. Matt Bevin has] allowed me to define the role and dive in where I can.”

Now in her final year in office, Hampton wants to use her voice to bring attention to youth mental health and suicide prevention. She discussed these efforts with KET’s Renee Shaw on Connections.

A Calling to Promote Mental Health
You might say divine intervention brought Hampton to her new focus. She began to notice the number of people she’s met in recent months who lost a friend or family member to suicide. She says social service workers dealing with mental health and suicide began crossing her path with greater frequency.

“I think the Lord put this on my heart,” she says.

At the same time, the lieutenant governor says she began to realize that many of the children she visited in schools felt stressed from things happening in their lives, such as household poverty or a parent dealing with addiction or incarceration. Hampton says some of these young people had even lost hope.

“As I’m talking with counselors, I am hearing about kids as young as kindergarten not only thinking about taking their own lives, but planning it,” she says.

Then in January of this year, a 10-year old Louisville boy that Hampton personally met during her first year in office died by suicide. Seven Bridges had endured health issues since he was a baby, and had become a victim of bullying at his school.

“He was such a charismatic young man, so full of promise,” says the lieutenant governor. “It just breaks my heart that we have lost a person who could’ve done so much, added so much to society because basically other people were not nice.”

A Rise from Hardscrabble Roots
Hampton knows something about bullying. She experienced it herself as child growing up in inner-city Detroit. She was the daughter of a single mother who never graduated high school, and the family often struggled to make ends meet.

To counter the taunts and worries she endured, Hampton says she developed what she now calls “stress-busters,” activities like sewing, running, and reading that “kept me grounded, I think, and kept me from being despondent over a lot of the negative things that I saw.”

After high school, Hampton worked at General Motors while earning an industrial engineering degree at Wayne State University. She joined the U.S. Air Force and served for seven years, including deployment in Operation Desert Storm.

After her military service, Hampton spent nearly two decades in the corrugated packaging industry in management and sales jobs for companies including Weyerhaeuser and International Paper Company. She and her husband, also an Air Force veteran, settled in Bowling Green in the early 2000s.

Following a failed run for the state House of Representatives in 2014, Hampton joined Matt Bevin’s 2015 gubernatorial campaign as his running mate. She became the first African American to hold statewide office in the commonwealth.

But in January of this year, Hampton learned that she would not accompany Bevin in his bid for a second term. The governor instead selected state Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester) as Hampton’s replacement.

“I was disappointed initially,” she says, “but after prayer, I realized that the Lord had a different plan and he has another assignment for me.”

Hampton says she doesn’t know what that will be or where it will take her, but in the meantime, she wants to focus the remainder of her tenure in office on helping young people. That includes bringing attention to youth suicide prevention.

“Obviously I’m not going to solve this by the end of my term in December, but what I hope to do is move this forward,” says Hampton. “There are a lot of people who want to help and it’s not that we’re not rowing in the same direction, we’re just in different ponds and we’re not aware of what’s going on in the other ponds.”

Promoting Suicide Prevention
Hampton says she’d like to foster stronger collaborations among all the entities involved in addressing youth mental health, and promote one or two suicide prevention strategies that hold the most promise. For example, Hampton says she’s been trained in QPR, which stands for question, persuade, and refer. The program teaches people to recognize a child or adult who is distress and to ask them a simple but very important question: Are you thinking about suicide?

“If you suspect that someone is thinking of taking their own life, you must address it with that person very bluntly because you could save their life,” says Hampton.

The lieutenant governor has also been impressed with Sources of Strength, a program that teaches students as well as school faculty and staff strategies to prevent bullying, substance abuse, and suicide.

“It teaches the kids to be resilient, it teaches them to develop empathy for their fellow students,” Hampton says. “It’s one of the best programs that I’ve seen out there and I would love to get that in every school.”

But implementing Sources of Strength can be a burden on school districts already facing limited funding and staff resources. Louisville’s Butler High School is one of the schools that have embraced the program. Hampton says during a visit there, she met one of the student leaders, an 11th grader who said a classmate had intervened to save his life when he had thoughts of suicide.

“The young man whose life was saved said it shouldn’t matter what it costs, because this is saving lives,” Hampton says. “He’s right: It is saving lives. It disrupts that cycle of hopelessness.”

Between now and when she leaves office, Hampton says she will continue to visit classrooms and share her story of struggle and success. She hopes she can encourage children to be positive about their own futures.

“Each and every one of those kids that I’ve spoken to is capable of way more than they think,” Hampton says. “I want each and every kid to know that you have a purpose and you have talents, and if you feel sad, find someone to talk to [and] surround yourself with people who lift you up.”

Related Content

Suicide Prevention/Teaching Hope

Effective Tools for Youth Suicide Prevention

Helping Kentucky’s Youth with Mental Health Problems

Help for Families and Caregivers

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Host Doug Flynn stands outside smiling in a red shirt. A "Check Schedule" button is to the right.Host Doug Flynn stands outside smiling in a red shirt with his hands clasped. A "Check Schedule" button is to the right.

Season 14 Episodes

The 'I Was Here' Project

S14 E36 Length 27:42 Premiere Date 08/04/19

Mike Runyon and Sherita Miller; Wendy Kobler

S14 E35 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 07/28/19

Filmmaker Lynn Novick

S14 E33 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 07/14/19

Brent Hutchinson; Christine Thompson - Education

S14 E32 Length 27:37 Premiere Date 07/07/19

Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton - Youth Mental Health

S14 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 06/02/19

Julie Cerel - Youth Suicide Prevention

S14 E29 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 05/19/19

Dale Suttles - Sunrise Children's Services

S14 E28 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 05/12/19

Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky

S14 E27 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 05/05/19

Joshua A. Douglas - Voting Rights Reform

S14 E25 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 04/21/19

Jay Box - Ky. Community & Technical College System

S14 E24 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 04/14/19

Author and Life Coach Colene Elridge

S14 E23 Length 26:19 Premiere Date 04/07/19

FIRST STEP Act - Criminal Justice Reform

S14 E22 Length 27:44 Premiere Date 03/31/19

Cheryl A. Oldham

S14 E21 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 02/22/19

Linda Hampton - Early Childhood

S14 E20 Length 29:47 Premiere Date 02/15/19

Donald Mason

S14 E19 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 02/08/19

Community Action Council; First 5 Lex

S14 E18 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 02/01/19

Seamus Carey

S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 01/25/19

Michael Benson

S14 E16 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 01/18/19

Dr. Aaron Thompson

S14 E14 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 01/11/19

Mary Todd Lincoln and Lincoln Lexington Walking Tour

S14 E13 Length 28:55 Premiere Date 12/14/18

Youth Suicide

S14 E12 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 12/07/18

Jean Schumm and Amanda Gale

S14 E11 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/16/18

M. Christopher Brown II

S14 E10 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 11/09/18

Frank Harris

S14 E9 Length 25:17 Premiere Date 11/02/18

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S14 E8 Length 29:16 Premiere Date 10/26/18

Amy McGrath

S14 E7 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 10/19/18

Kevin Chapman - Youth Mental Health

S14 E6 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 10/12/18

Carol Cecil; Resa Gonzalez - Youth Mental Health

S14 E5 Length 26:03 Premiere Date 10/05/18

Joe Bargione - Youth Mental Health

S14 E4 Length 28:57 Premiere Date 09/28/18

WKU President Timothy Caboni

S14 E3 Length 28:40 Premiere Date 09/21/18

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi

S14 E1 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 09/14/18

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  • Friday September 23, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 23, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kendell Nash - ECHO - S10 E27

  • Thursday September 22, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 22, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dorothy Edwards and Diane Fleet - S10 E26

  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Elaine Chao - S10 E23

  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 2:06 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 1:06 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 20, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Diabetes Epidemic - S10 E20

  • Monday September 19, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 19, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington - S18 E2

  • Saturday September 24, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 24, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Mary Gwen Wheeler, 55,000 Degrees - S10 E16

  • Friday September 16, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 16, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

15K Degrees Initiative - S10 E13

  • Thursday September 15, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 15, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sister Helen Prejean - S10 E12

  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court - S10 E11

  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bill Farmer - S10 E8

  • Monday September 12, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 12, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

State Treasurer Allison Ball - S18 E1

  • Sunday September 11, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Reporter Jonathan Bullington - S17 E23

  • Sunday September 18, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 18, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 17, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 17, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Diane Follingstad - UK Women's Circle Endowment Chair - S10 E6

  • Friday September 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 9, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kevin Chapman - S10 E5

  • Thursday September 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 8, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Soreyda Benedit Begley and Chris Begley - S10 E3

  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 7, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bloggers on Personal Development - S10 E2

  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 6, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Chris Rabb - S10 E1

  • Monday September 5, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 5, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Nikki Lanier - Harper Slade - S17 E22

  • Sunday September 11, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 11, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 10, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 10, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Delanor Manson - Kentucky Nurses Association - S17 E36

  • Sunday September 4, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 4, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Tanya Torp and Holly Houston - S9 E46

  • Friday September 2, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 2, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Frontier Nursing University - S9 E45

  • Thursday September 1, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 1, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

SWAG - Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence - S9 E44

  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Marta Miranda - S9 E43

  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Judi Jennings - S9 E42

  • Monday August 29, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 29, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Exploring Solutions to the Healthcare Worker Shortage - S17 E14

  • Sunday August 28, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday August 28, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday August 27, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday August 27, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Dr. Robert Hilgers - S9 E41

  • Friday August 26, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 26, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday August 26, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 26, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday August 26, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 26, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Wil James - S9 E40

  • Thursday August 25, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 25, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday August 25, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 25, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday August 25, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 25, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

African Americans and Mental Health - S9 E39

  • Wednesday August 24, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 24, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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