Firearms are the only means of suicide Makulec talks about because it is the most lethal and the most common. In Missouri, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24, behind accidents of all kinds. Ninety-eight Missourians ages 24 and under died from firearm suicides in 2019, the most recent year data was available.
And the problem is getting worse: Missouri’s youth suicide rate is rising faster than all but four other states.
Suicide prevention advocates, mental health professionals and parents who lost children to gun suicide point to solutions: restricting teens’ access to guns and encouraging more informed conversations to end stigma and silence surrounding suicide and mental health, like the work done at KUTO.
“I’d like to think every day is my last day of work,” said Makulec, who serves as KUTO’s executive director. “But while we’ve made an impact, teens are still dying by suicide at an alarming rate in Missouri.”
With gun suicides on the rise, a rare hotline staffed by St. Louis teens saves lives https://t.co/9se2n1WhSg
— The Kansas City Star (@KCStar) March 7, 2021