A quarter of surveyed students in Cowley County have made a suicide plan, according to data presented by Legacy Regional Foundation in Winfield and verified by the Kansas Health Institute.
Called “A Closer Look At Cowley Kids: An Initiative Of Legacy Foundation,” 4 in 10 Cowley County students show signs of depression and 1 in 4 Cowley County students has made a suicide plan. The data is based off a survey that asked 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades, “Have you ever made a plan about how you would kill yourself?”
If the answer was yes, the student was asked how recent since 2018.
Just over 14 percent answered yes for 2018 — below the state average of 17.8 percent — but were over the state average for 2019, 2020, 2021 and this year. For 2022, Cowley County students answered yes at a rate of 25.9 percent compared to the Kansas average of 22.1 percent.
Lindsay Wilke is the Early Literacy Coordinator for USD 470 and helped spearhead the data collection.
She told Cowley Post the research was “sobering” and inspired by the latest community needs assessment curated by Cowley County Head Start.
“There is often a divide between what we think we know and the reality of what is really happening,” Legacy Foundation stated on its website. “That’s why we’re digging into data zeroing in on kids and how poverty impacts health, education, and their potential for a successful future. Indicators with Cowley County-specific data vetted by the Kansas Health Institute have been targeted.
“Additionally, a short documentary filmed with local experts discussing social determinants of health has been created for viewing. We hope this data will bring us to a common place from which we can diagnose the real circumstances of the situation and make progress in a skillful manner.”
The data also indicates childcare shortages in the county.
There are 31-40 children under the age of 3 for each childcare opening in Cowley County and that 1 in 5 children in the county is food insecure. There are housing issues as well. According to the data, more than 1/3 renters in Cowley County do not have affordable housing.
The full data set is available here.