Nearly 45,000 Americans die by suicide each year —an increase of nearly 25 percent since 1999.  No wonder the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it a public health crisis. The problem is even worse in Kansas:  Up 45 percent in the same time frame. The issue is in today’s headlines due to recent celebrity deaths, including fashion designer Kate Spade, who was from Kansas City.

A recent op-ed by Wichita attorney Blake Shuart exemplifies the traditional approach:  Suggesting outreach to those at risk, along with increased attention to depression screening and treatment. Others remind readers of the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline:  1-800-273-8255.  These are all good, but defining suicide in terms of public health offers still more.  Social science shows us that many suicides are preventable, and the means are within reach.  

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