Kansas suicide rate increasing 'dramatically'

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

New information from the State Department of Health shows suicide rates are going up in Kansas.

The Department of Health is calling the rise "dramatic."

Local high school student Arley Murphy wishes her friend were still here.

"I felt like I knew him enough to know he went through a struggle but also he was a really good person," said Arley.

That struggle, Arley said, led her friend to take his life.

"(To) know that they went through a struggle and didn't think they had any other way out is really sad to know," said Arley.

With the recent release of season two of the popular Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why and the shocking death this week of designer Kate Spade, mental health and suicide are again at the forefront of conversations.

"Mental illness doesn't discriminate, anyone can have it, and it kind of helps people understand that money doesn't buy happiness," said Nicole Fenoglio, Founder and President, Stop Suicide ICT.

Fenoglio doesn't think talking about someone's suicide will encourage copycats, but she does say it's important to have the right conversations.

Kansas now ranks 19th in the nation for suicide rates. In Wichita, police say it's even worse.

The department released statistics on Friday, that show so far in 2017, 41 people have died from suicide. Compare that to 64 in all of 2017 and 43 in 2016.

"Our goal is really not to determine why they're increasing, trying to figure out what the cause behind that is, but really our goal is to let's just do everything we can to prevent them," said Fenoglio.

Part of that prevention is getting people to talk about mental health, something Arley Murphy hopes will happen through this poem she wrote.

When read through top to bottom, Arley said that's how someone may view their life.

But she wants people to read it a different way.

"The way they read it backwards is how people see them as; so it gives them a different perspective," said Arley.

Arley hopes her poem can inspire others who are hurting like her friend was.

"It's okay to be different, it's okay to be weird, but it's not okay to give up on yourself," said Arley.

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