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Youth Suicide

Youth Suicide

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Youth Suicide

Renee Shaw and her guests discuss education and prevention of youth suicide which is the second leading cause of death for youth age 10-24. Guests include Dr. Hatim Omar, M.D., chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of Kentucky; Melinda Moore, an Eastern Kentucky University psychology professor; and Molly and Michelle Jones who lost a loved one to suicide.
S14 E12 Length 29:22 Premiere: 12.7.18

Youth Suicide

Two years ago this month, 23-year-old Pete Jones took his own life.

His family describes Pete as having been a brilliant young man, full of promise and working towards a graduate degree at the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering. He had a great sense of humor and loved to make his family and friends laugh.

“But he had emotions that he wasn’t able to express,” says Pete’s mother, Molly Jones. “I’m not sure why he wasn’t able to express them. Maybe it’s because he didn’t understand them. Maybe it’s because he was afraid of what would happen if he expressed them.”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people up to age 24. Among youth aged 10 to 14, it is the leading cause of death, surpassing car accidents, homicides, and medical conditions.

As part of a special series on youth mental health, KET’s Connections explored the increase in suicides among young people, as well as several public awareness and prevention efforts.

The first sign that something was wrong was when Pete Jones suddenly stopped going to school.

His mother says that surprised the family because Pete had excelled at academics. As Molly Jones recounts the change, she says Pete admitted to being depressed. In fact, he said that he had felt that way his whole life. Hearing that caused Molly to wonder if Pete had tried to communicate those feelings earlier, and if the family had overlooked the signals.

“Adults and even peers, we’re programmed to try to shut that down,” Molly says. “Anything but perfect mental health is something you shun, you run from.”

Pete went into counseling with a therapist he liked, and his mother says his outlook improved dramatically.

But then he took his own life on Dec. 9, 2016.

The Rise in Youth Suicide
The suicide rate among American teens has tripled since the 1950s, according to Dr. Hatim Omar, chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at UK HealthCare. He attributes some of that increase to an unraveling of American social bonds in recent decades.

“Kids… used to have a support system, whether [it’s] their family, their neighbors, their relatives, the school, their friends.” Omar says. “That’s gotten destroyed.”

Girls attempt suicide more than boys do, he says, but boys are more likely to complete it. Omar explains that’s because boys tend to use more lethal means like a firearm. But with easy access to guns in America, Omar says more girls are now starting to use them in their suicide attempts as well.

The rise of the Internet is another factor in today’s higher suicide rates. Omar says that has led to cyber-bullying and harassment that can instantly spread across social media websites. And because many young people spend so much time online and engaged with other social and school activities, they’re not getting enough rest.

“We underestimate the lack of sleep,” says Omar. “When they don’t sleep well, they don’t make good decisions.”

A decrease in sleep can also lead to feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, and even depression, according to Omar. While depression can contribute to suicidal thoughts, Omar says it’s a far smaller factor in suicide than doctors once believed.

In fact Omar says research now indicates that about 30 percent of youth suicides involve no mental health component. He says these are known as “same-day suicides” in which a young person encounters a problem at home, at school, or with a relationship partner and is unable to see any way of getting past it.

“The only thing on their mind is, I have no hope, I have no life,” Omar says.

Not Just a Mental Health Problem
“We know that individuals who are suicidal oftentimes feel like they don’t belong, and they feel like they’re a burden,” says Melinda Moore, a psychology professor at Eastern Kentucky University. Her husband took his own life 22 years ago.

Moore and Omar agree the view of youth suicide must move beyond the search for an underlying mental health issue.

“I think what we have to do is instead of seeing it as diagnostically driven, or a mental illness-driven problem, we need to see it as kind of a behavioral problem that many different people can possibly contemplate and engage in,” says Moore.

Omar says he’s been working for two decades to change the narrative around suicide from that of a mental health problem to a public health problem. He says that the problem with linking mental health and suicidal thoughts is that by the time a mental health problem is diagnosed, it may be too late to save that person’s life.

“The idea is to anticipate, not react,” says Omar.

Intervention and Prevention
Omar and Moore want to engage everyone in the work of preventing suicides, because anyone can notice when a relative, friend, colleague, or neighbor is in distress. Moore encourages people to be direct and ask if the other person is having thoughts of suicide. She says simply asking the question doesn’t put the thought of suicide into that person’s mind because they’re likely already considering it.

If a person does admit to having suicidal thoughts, then Moore says to stay with them and call for professional help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24-hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Among youth, Moore says it’s critical that teens have a trusted adult that they know they can confide in. Omar says youth also need to be encouraged to tell an adult if a friend is considering suicide. He tells teens that it’s better to have an angry friend than a dead one.

In his prevention efforts, Omar works directly with young people. In the Lincoln County public schools, Omar conducts screenings of every student at the start of the school year. He says they ask young people about a range of issues, including suicide, substance abuse, and sexual activity. And they tell the students that if they have any concerns or problems, that they can receive free and confidential help. Omar says the initiative has had dramatic results.

“Lincoln County, by most outcome measures, went from one of the worst counties to one of the best counties in the state,” he says. “Lincoln County was the only county with about a 50 percent reduction in suicide versus all other counties in the state that are going up.”

After Pete Jones’ suicide, his family established a foundation to publicize the issue through an annual music festival, and to provide prevention resources to young people and adults.

“What we would like to be is the step before suicide ever comes into play,” says Pete’s sister, Michelle. “So we’re proactively preventing suicides by raising awareness about it, giving young people the tools that they need to be able to express themselves, or other people the tools they need to be able to see signs in others and help them.”

Molly Jones says the foundation has given the family a purpose and a way to express their ongoing love for Pete.

“It doesn’t make it okay, but it helps gives us a way to go forward,” she says.

Program Details

Connections

About Connections

Each week, host Renee Shaw and a variety of interesting and engaging people - including business leaders, entertainers, authors, celebrities, and more - explore a broad array of topics impacting Kentucky and the world.

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Renee's guests are Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom and prison exoneree Calvin Johnson. In 1983, Johnson was falsely convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison. The Innocence Project took his case and arranged for forensic testing that proved his innocence 16 years later. Renee talks with Johnson about his experience and with Saloom about the work of the Innocence Project in all 50 states.

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Diabetes Prevention and Control - S9 E10

Experts discuss the statewide education and prevention methods being dispatched and the changes individuals can make to avoid diabetes.

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Human Trafficking - S9 E11

Renee talks with guests about recent legislation that strengthens Kentucky's human trafficking laws and provides more services to victims and other topics.

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The Forgotten Minority - S9 E12

Renee talks with advocates for Kentuckians with disabilities about the challenges facing those with mental and physical limitations and illnesses, the resources available, and the policy changes needed to better serve this population.

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Middle Class Struggles and Poverty - S9 E13

Renee's guests are Ron Crouch, demographer and director of research and statistics in the Office of Employment and Training for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, and Myrdin Thompson of Louisville, an activist with RESULTS, a nonprofit whose mission is to fight hunger and poverty.

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Tuskegee Airmen Historians - S9 E14

Renee interviews a trio of men who are either making history or working to preserve it: Reginald "Reggie" Thomas, the third African American in Kentucky history to be elected to the Kentucky Senate; Ron Spriggs, Tuskegee Airmen historian; and Bobby Scroggins, art professor and sculptor.

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Renee talks with Mississippian Sabrina Butler, the only female death row exoneree, about her wrongful conviction and her quest to end capital punishment, and with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky spokesperson Kate Miller.

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Dr. Vershawn A. Young - S9 E20

Renee talks with University of Kentucky professor Vershawn A. Young (aka Dr. Vay), an expert of the contemporary African American experience, about his latest published work, Other People's English: Code-Meshing, Code-Switching, and African American Literacy.

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Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker - S9 E21

Frank X Walker, named Kentucky's 2013-14 poet laureate, talks about his latest collection, Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, and other works and projects.

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50th Anniversary of the March On Frankfort - S9 E22

Renee discusses the 50th anniversary commemoration of the 1964 March on Frankfort with historians and participants including: NAACP Louisville leader Raoul Cunningham and former state Senator Georgia Davis Powers.

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Aaron Thompson - S9 E26

Aaron Thompson, executive vice president and chief academic officer of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, discusses the state budget for higher education and the impact on student tuition.

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MaryLee Underwoood and Chastity Ross - CCDD - S9 E27

MaryLee Underwoood and Chastity Ross with the Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities (CCDD) discuss recent legislation to protect vulnerable adults against abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

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Renee speaks with Dr. Janet Taylor, psychiatrist, certified life coach, and national commentator on work-life balance and mental health issues.

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Former Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent talks about her decision come out as a gay woman, reaction from family and friends, her activism in advancing gay rights and marriage, and more.

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Renee speaks with former Kentucky Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Hasan Davis, about recent juvenile justice reform. Davis was featured in the recent PBS Frontline program "Prison State," about Kentucky's correction system, and interviewed for KET's follow-up program, Prison State: A Kentucky Community Conversation.

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Prison Reform In Kentucky - S9 E32

Renee continues the discussion about Kentucky prison reform recently highlighted on the PBS Frontline program "Prison State." Her guests are: Mark Bolton, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections; Sheila Schuster, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and mental health advocate; and Ray Larson, Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney.

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Ted Strader - COPES - S9 E33

Ted Strader, the director of the Council on Prevention and Education: Substances, Inc. (COPES) in Louisville, discusses how partnering agencies with the corrections system can help former inmates with successful re-entry into society.

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Colene Elridge - S9 E34

Renee speaks with human resources professional and life coach Colene Elridge, better known as Coach Colene, owner of Be More Consulting.

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  • Sunday January 12, 2020 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 12, 2020 7:00 am CT on KETKY

Dana Branham - S8 E36

  • Friday January 17, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 17, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 17, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 17, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 17, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 17, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Frank Minnifield - S8 E35

  • Thursday January 16, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 16, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 16, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 16, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 16, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 16, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jakobi Williams - S8 E34

  • Wednesday January 15, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 15, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 15, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 15, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 15, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 15, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Beth Dotson Brown - S8 E31

  • Tuesday January 14, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 14, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 14, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 14, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 14, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 14, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Lexington Artists - S8 E28

  • Monday January 13, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 13, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 13, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 13, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 13, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 13, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Ashli Watts - Kentucky Chamber of Commerce - S15 E15

  • Saturday January 11, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday January 11, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday January 5, 2020 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday January 5, 2020 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday January 5, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 5, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 5, 2020 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 5, 2020 11:00 am CT on KET
  • Sunday January 5, 2020 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 5, 2020 7:00 am CT on KETKY

Byron Hurt - S8 E25

  • Friday January 10, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 10, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 10, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 10, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 10, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 10, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Janet Steele Holloway - S8 E24

  • Thursday January 9, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 9, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 9, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 9, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 9, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 9, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jane Beshear - S8 E21

  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Alexandra Bradner - S8 E20

  • Tuesday January 7, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 7, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 7, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 7, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 7, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 7, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Thrivals 5.0 - S8 E19

  • Monday January 6, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 6, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 6, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 6, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 6, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 6, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

  • Saturday January 4, 2020 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday January 4, 2020 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday December 29, 2019 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday December 29, 2019 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday December 29, 2019 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 29, 2019 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday December 29, 2019 1:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday December 29, 2019 12:30 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday December 29, 2019 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 29, 2019 7:00 am CT on KETKY

Derek Anderson - S8 E18

  • Friday January 3, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 3, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 3, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 3, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 3, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 3, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bianca Spriggs - S8 E16

  • Thursday January 2, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 2, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 2, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 2, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 2, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 2, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Cathy Holloway Hill - S8 E15

  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020 4:30 am CT on KETKY

M.A.D.E. (Motivating Youth All Day Everyday) - S8 E13

  • Tuesday December 31, 2019 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 31, 2019 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 31, 2019 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 31, 2019 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 31, 2019 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 31, 2019 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Susan Pope - S8 E12

  • Monday December 30, 2019 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 30, 2019 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 30, 2019 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 30, 2019 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 30, 2019 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 30, 2019 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Pastor Edward Palmer - Racial Bias and Juvenile Justice Reform - S15 E2

  • Saturday December 28, 2019 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday December 28, 2019 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 25, 2019 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday December 25, 2019 10:30 pm CT on KET

Mimi Pickering and Dr. Catherine Fosl - S8 E7

  • Friday December 27, 2019 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 27, 2019 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday December 27, 2019 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 27, 2019 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday December 27, 2019 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 27, 2019 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Tara Betts - S8 E6

  • Thursday December 26, 2019 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 26, 2019 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday December 26, 2019 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 26, 2019 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday December 26, 2019 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 26, 2019 4:30 am CT on KETKY

dream hampton - S8 E5

  • Wednesday December 25, 2019 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 25, 2019 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 25, 2019 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 25, 2019 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 25, 2019 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 25, 2019 4:30 am CT on KETKY
Top

Season 14

The 'I Was Here' Project

S14 E36 Length 27:42 Premiere Date 8.4.19

Mike Runyon and Sherita Miller; Wendy Kobler

S14 E35 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 7.28.19

Filmmaker Lynn Novik

S14 E33 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 7.14.19

Brent Hutchinson; Christine Thompson - Education

S14 E32 Length 27:37 Premiere Date 7.7.19

Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton - Youth Mental Health

S14 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.2.19

Julie Cerel - Youth Suicide Prevention

S14 E29 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.19.19

Dale Suttles - Sunrise Children's Services

S14 E28 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 5.12.19

Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky

S14 E27 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 5.5.19

Joshua A. Douglas - Voting Rights Reform

S14 E25 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.21.19

Jay Box - Ky. Community & Technical College System

S14 E24 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.14.19

Author and Life Coach Colene Elridge

S14 E23 Length 26:19 Premiere Date 4.7.19

FIRST STEP Act - Criminal Justice Reform

S14 E22 Length 27:44 Premiere Date 3.31.19

Cheryl A. Oldham

S14 E21 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 2.22.19

Linda Hampton - Early Childhood

S14 E20 Length 29:47 Premiere Date 2.15.19

Donald Mason

S14 E19 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.8.19

Community Action Council; First 5 Lex

S14 E18 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 2.1.19

Seamus Carey

S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 1.25.19

Michael Benson

S14 E16 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 1.18.19

Dr. Aaron Thompson

S14 E14 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 1.11.19

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 12.7.18

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 11.9.18

Frank Harris

S14 E9 Length 25:17 Premiere Date 11.2.18

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 10.5.18

Joe Bargione - Youth Mental Health

S14 E4 Length 28:57 Premiere Date 9.28.18

WKU President Timothy Caboni

S14 E3 Length 28:40 Premiere Date 9.21.18

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi

S14 E1 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 9.14.18

Explore KET