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Kingman hospital gets Helping Hand for suicide prevention efforts

Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 9:45 PM CDT
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KINGMAN, Kan. (KWCH) - A suicide last year shook the small town of Kingman, fueling a movement to try to stop this from happening ever again. KWCH and DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers gave a $1,200 Helping Hand to Kingman Healthcare Center for its response to mental health concerns in Kingman County.

In February 2020, 14-year-old Logan Kostner died by suicide. His dad Adrian Kostner told Eyewitness News this Morning anchor Natalie Davis he skipped school, drove to the local grocery store, and shot himself in the parking lot.

“It was heartbreaking, definitely the worst thing I’ve ever gone through in my life,” said Adrian Kostner.

Adrian said he may never know what led Logan to that point, but he wants something to be done to protect Logan’s classmates and other children who are struggling.

Kingman Healthcare Center is trying. It recently brought the Mental Health First Aid program to the community.

“What we’re doing here is nothing different than CPR class,” said instructor Christine Jennings.

The class teaches how to recognize signs of a mental health crisis and intervene to hopefully save a life.

Eyewitness News was there when teachers from St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Kingman took the class just before students returned to start the new school year.

“Mental health is such a crisis,” said principal Dr. Eva Harmon. “We want to make sure we have a good grasp on how to look at the children and be able to teach the children that they are healthy and they are safe.”

The class takes a full day, but those who take it report what they learn is valuable.

“Every time, it’s been, ‘This was one of the best classes we’ve ever taken and so worth the time,’” said instructor Justina Kostner, who is also Logan’s aunt.

Teaching the class is an emotional experience for her.

“Logan got to that point where he didn’t have hope anymore and he couldn’t see a way out,” said Justina.

Kingman Healthcare Center CEO Preston Sauers said suicide is happening far too often in Kingman County.

According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Kingman County is the worst in the state for premature death, defined as years of potential life lost before age 75. Sauers points to suicide as a primary contributor.

“There have been an alarming number of suicides among adolescents,” said Sauers.

He said Kingman Healthcare Center recently had a 9-year-old girl in its ER for suicidal ideations. Sauers said she told healthcare providers where the guns were in her house and which one she would use to shoot herself.

“That is not okay,” said Sauers. “A 9-year-old girl should not even know the word suicide.”

Sauers said this has been hard on his staff too. He said he hired a licensed professional counselor to consult Kingman Healthcare Center’s providers and reach out to the community and schools.

According to Sauers, from the beginning of 2020 until now, Kingman Healthcare Center’s ER treated 51 people experiencing mental health crises, including some who attempted suicide. More than half (27) of those patients were younger than 18.

Sauers also told Eyewitness News, just this month, two more people in Kingman County died by suicide. One was a teenage boy. Neither of them made it to the hospital.

“[Logan] was not the only one that was having the trouble he was having. There were other kids,” said Adrian Kostner.

Adrian said this is preventable. He wants parents to open their eyes, parent with mental health in mind, and talk with their kids.

“Logan never said anything, and I wish he had. I wish that I had asked questions. I wish that I had asked him more about what was going on,” said Adrian.

If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help. Dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Adrian attends a support group in Wichita called SOS: Survivors of Suicide Loss. If you have lost someone to suicide, you can find a support group through Good Grief of Kansas or call Jim Yoder at 316-727-0663.

Since Logan’s death, Adrian has poured himself into learning as much as he can about mental health and suicide prevention. Here are some resources he recommended we share:

Online:

Books:

  • It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine
  • Cracked, Not Broken by Kevin Hine
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
  • Big Life Journal (for kids and teens)
  • Calm the F*CK Down and Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight

Copyright 2021 KWCH. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2021 KWCH. All rights reserved.