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Preventing Youth Suicide

Renee Shaw discusses youth suicide prevention and mental health with guests.
Season 13 Episode 7 Length 28:17 Premiere: 10/20/17

Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

It’s a small thing to reach out and ask a simple question. It can come from a friend or classmate, a teacher or coach, a neighbor or someone at church, but it can make a world of difference to a young person considering suicide.

“I’m worried about you. Are you OK?”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 15 and 24. In Kentucky, 8 percent of Kentucky high school sophomores – that’s 1 in every 12 students – say they attempted suicide in 2015.

On KET’s Connections, host Renee Shaw explored youth suicide prevention with licensed clinical psychologist Julie Cerel, a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work and president of the American Association of Suicidology. She also spoke with Courtney Parr, a college student who got treatment for her depression and now helps others considering suicide.

Courtney Parr describes it as a tape playing in her head. The recording said members of her family never graduate high school, they die at an early age from drug addiction, and that she was destined to a similar fate.

Life for Parr was indeed difficult. She never knew her father, and her mother overdosed in 2007. Parr shuffled through different foster homes, some good, some bad, and she battled depression. Yet she still knew she wanted change the script that played in her head.

Parr did make it to college, but the peer pressure of fitting in led to a panic attack. That’s when a friend in her dorm asked the simple question: Are you OK?

“I said, I don’t know. I feel like I’m going crazy,” Parr recalls.

The next day, Parr asked her boyfriend’s mother for help. She was able to get Parr into treatment and on the path to recovery.

“Now I can tell other people I went through this depression, I felt I was about to die or I needed to,” says Parr. “I was just going through all these emotions and didn’t know how to explain them or express them or who to talk to.”

Recognizing a Child in Need of Help
Psychologist and UK professor Julie Cerel says it’s important for young people to hear stories like the one Parr has to tell.

“The vast majority of people that attempt suicide and survive, go on to live lives that don’t end in suicide,” Cerel says. “This whole message of hope that even when people get to the point where they’ve attempted to end their lives, they can be hopeful and they can lead a great life.”

Getting the word out to young girls is especially important, says Cerel, because the suicide death rate for that demographic has been increasing over the last decade. She says a number of factors may be at play, including bullying, substance abuse and drug addiction, easy availability firearms and other lethal means, media depictions that glamorize suicide, and lack of access to mental health care.

About half of adults in the commonwealth know someone who has taken their own life, according to Cerel. She says it’s a myth that committing suicide is a good way to seek revenge against those who have wronged you.

“The reality is there’s never anyone left behind after a suicide who is OK with it,” says Cerel. “People grieve forever.”

Kentucky has been proactive at trying to prevent suicides among young people, Cerel says. The state has received several federal grants to train mental health professionals as well as teachers and other school personnel how to recognize a change in student’s behavior and intervene with a potentially suicidal child.

“It’s amazing that Kentucky is one of only a handful of states that has a requirement for mental health providers, social workers, psychologists, counselors to have specific training in suicide assessment and treatment,” she says. “But we need to go further and make sure that the training that therapists get is good training and evidenced-based training.”

Cerel encourages all adults to be on the look out for a good student or athlete who suddenly doesn’t care about his or her performance. Other indicators can be a young person who experiences a relationship break up or starts to give away prized possessions.

If a child talks about harming him or herself, a friend or adult should act immediately. Cerel recommends calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Operators there can provide referrals to local resources, do short-term crisis counseling, or address an actual emergency. Crisis counselors are also available by texting 741741.

But even a child who is constantly irritable or angry for several weeks may need an intervention. That’s when the simple question of “are you OK?” can be effective. Cerel says it’s important for children to know that someone notices them, values them, and is willing to talk with them during difficult times. She even encourages young people to reach out to their peers, and to not fear asking an adult for help on behalf of a friend who is suicidal.

“It’s better to risk losing the friendship than losing the life of a friend,” Cerel says.

Shut Down But Not Shut Out
Courtney Parr says she would “shut down” when she was in the depths of her depression. She says she didn’t intend to shut other people out when that happened. It was simply her way of crying out for help.

“It just takes one person [to notice],” says Parr. “If they know someone else is out there that loves them, even though they’re going through all of this, then they will eventually open up and they will express how they feel.”

“Once you find that person, it’s a lot easier to cope with things.”

Parr says she still has her struggles, but she’s learned how to recognize and respond to the symptoms of a potentially debilitating depression. She says she will immediately call a friend, say a prayer, or read her Bible to help shift her thinking to a better place.

Now a college senior studying social work, Parr says she wouldn’t change anything about her past because it’s made her into who she is today – a person who can talk about her difficulties and emotions and the thoughts of suicide she once had.

“I couldn’t see myself actually being able to help anyone because I had so many problems,” says Parr. “But now I am helping others and I am making a difference, even though I felt the way I did and even though I went through mental health issues.”

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Season 13 Episodes

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S13 E43 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 08/24/18

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S13 E42 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 08/17/18

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S13 E37 Length 28:48 Premiere Date 07/13/18

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S13 E36 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 07/06/18

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S13 E35 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 06/29/18

Criminal Justice Reform

S13 E34 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 06/22/18

Jay Box - Kentucky Community and Technical College

S13 E33 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 06/15/18

Interim Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis

S13 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 06/08/18

Bob King - Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

S13 E31 Length 28:09 Premiere Date 06/01/18

Rachel Childress - Lexington Habitat for Humanity

S13 E30 Length 26:22 Premiere Date 05/25/18

2018 Kentucky Primary Races

S13 E29 Length 29:52 Premiere Date 05/18/18

Dr. Donna Grigsby

S13 E28 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 05/11/18

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S13 E27 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 05/04/18

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S13 E25 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 04/20/18

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S13 E24 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 04/13/18

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S13 E23 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 04/06/18

Secretary Derrick Ramsey - Apprenticeships

S13 E22 Length 28:09 Premiere Date 02/23/18

Educational Innovation

S13 E21 Length 28:45 Premiere Date 02/16/18

Gerald Smith

S13 E20 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 02/09/18

Perry Bacon Jr.

S13 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 02/02/18

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S13 E17 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 01/19/18

Silas House, New Novel

S13 E16 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 01/16/18

Tawanda Owsley

S13 E15 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 01/05/18

Sexual Harassment Issues

S13 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 12/15/17

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S13 E13 Length 27:27 Premiere Date 12/08/17

Good Samaritans

S13 E12 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 11/17/17

A Salute to Heroes

S13 E10 Length 26:18 Premiere Date 11/10/17

Legislative Health Policy

S13 E9 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 11/03/17

Elder Care

S13 E8 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 10/27/17

Preventing Youth Suicide

S13 E7 Length 28:17 Premiere Date 10/20/17

A Proposal for Pension Reform

S13 E6 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/13/17

Rethinking Pain Medication

S13 E5 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/06/17

Former Gov. Steve Beshear

S13 E4 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 09/29/17

Secretary Elaine Chao

S13 E3 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/22/17

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

S13 E2 Length 29:32 Premiere Date 09/08/17

Author and Journalist Sam Quinones

S13 E1 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/01/17

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Preview Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/01/17

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  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 27, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kiley Lane Parker - S10 E29

  • Monday September 26, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 5:29 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 26, 2022 4:29 am CT on KETKY

David Adkins - The Council of State Governments - S18 E3

  • Sunday September 25, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 11:59 am ET on KET
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 10:59 am CT on KET

Kevin Chapman - S10 E28

  • Friday September 23, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • 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

  • Sunday September 25, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 25, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • 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
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