During a week when two celebrities took their own lives, one program at WKU is doing its part to research ways to lower the rising number of suicides in our country. On Thursday, they found out they'll be getting some much needed help.
Congressman Brett Guthrie announced in a press release that Western Kentucky University will be awarded a $413,400 grant for mental health research.
In the statement released by Guthrie, he said, "This grant will allow WKU to research non suicidal self-injury and suicide in adolescents. Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34 in Kentucky, and I'm glad the National Institute for Mental Health has recognized WKU for its research capabilities in awarding this grant."
WKU Psychology Professor Amy Brausch says these funds will give students a chance to gain experience through real world learning.
"They'll be able to have hands-on experience with this type of research which we're actually going into the schools to do," she said. "So it's in the field type of research."
Brausch says doing research in schools is necessary because suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents in the Commonwealth.
"School's where the young people are," the professor said. "Doing research there and trying to catch those kids who are at risk early is really important."
The CDC recently released findings showing that half of the states in the US have seen more than a 30% increase in suicide rates from 1999 to 2016, and there's several factors behind that rise.
"For young people, there's definitely more access to information," Brausch said. "There's a lot of stress. We've heard of social media connecting people, but also creating isolation. Isolation is a huge risk factor for suicide as well."
And hopefully the research being done at WKU and other schools will lead to a decline in suicidal deaths.
"We want to find out what puts kids at risk, what makes it worse, what makes it better, and then use that information to develop more prevention programs," said. Brausch.