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[Audio] Suicide Second Leading Cause of Teen Death in Kentucky

Antonio Guillem, 123rf Stock Photo

Director of Clinical Operations at Ridge Behavioral Health System Geoff Wilson of Lexington speaks with Tracy Ross on Sounds Good about the prevalence of teen suicide and his upcoming public event addressing the issue in Paducah on July 13.

Wilson says the rates of teen suicide are increasing. Suicide is the third leading cause of youth deaths nationally and the second leading cause of youth deaths in Kentucky, according to Wilson. He says there are many factors that play a role in these incidents, like trauma, neglect, the mental health of parents, access to mental health care, and access to the means to commit suicide.  

Another factor, Wilson says, is access to social media.

“A big piece of that has to do with the emotionality of it. So many youth these days are attached to electronic devices and social media. You go back when I was in high school, [an argument or a fight could happen] and no one would find out about it sometimes for days or never,” Wilson said.

Now, Wilson says, teens will often post about negative situations on social media.

“So there’ll be a YouTube video or a Facebook post and then thousands of kids will find out about it. So, the ability to handle that as a youth at the age of 14, 15, 16 can really be overwhelming,” Wilson said.

Wilson says immediate response on social media responses can exacerbate existing mental issues or cause rash reactions, like suicide attempts.

“All of a sudden something is posted on youtube where thousands of people are going to see it and they’re seeing all these comments that they are seeing,” Wilson said. “And for an adolescent that’s so overwhelming. They may do and act not even necessarily intending for this to happen and it happens.”

Signs of the potential for suicide include self-isolation from friends and activities that one previously enjoyed, a lack of attention to appearance, the expression of hopelessness, tearfulness, sleep troubles, mood instability, appetite changes, and a drop in academic performance. Wilson says that young males often become irritable and unable to handle frustration.

At his event in Paducah, Wilson says he wants to highlight the prevalence of teen suicide.

“Last year in the United States, we had, I believe, over 15,000 homicides. We had over 40,000 suicides, almost three times more. A lot of people don’t realize that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death.”

Suicide Prevention Resources:

·         National Suicide Prevention Lifeline-

o   Online Chat available at

o   Hotline- 1-800-273-TALK

·         State Crisis Centers-

·         Stop Youth Suicide-

·         National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention-

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
A proud native of Murray, Kentucky, Allison grew up roaming the forests of western Kentucky and visiting national parks across the country. She graduated in 2014 from Murray State University where she studied Environmental Sustainability, Television Production, and Spanish. She loves meeting new people, questioning everything, and dancing through the sun and the rain. She hopes to make a positive impact in this world several endeavors at a time.
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