Area activists work to prevent violence and reduce stress during holiday season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The start of the holiday season too often becomes a time of bloodshed in the African-American community. This year a group of community leaders wants to change that.

At the Golden Gate Funeral Chapel on the east side, some are urging their neighbors to look for warning signs of holiday stress that can result in violence among troubled families.

Black ministers and other activists want to remind folks that there are people who care about what happens in their neighborhoods and services available to help prevent problems from becoming crimes.

A home invasion early Wednesday near 56th and College became Kansas City's 69th homicide of the year. And with a woman in critical condition following a drive by shooting near 37th and Monroe Tuesday, those gathered at the funeral parlor fear the holiday season could be a bloody one if families don't reach out for help.

In the African-American community, there's anger over what's happened in Ferguson, and community outreach experts say a combination of anger and alcohol during the holidays can be deadly.

"Thanksgiving is a thankful day but somebody won't be celebrating it like we normally do," said Pat Clarke, KCPD community outreach specialist. "That home invasion last night, it wasn't done by four white men, I guarantee that. Four white men didn't kick in a door to a black lady's house and kill her son.”

Domestic violence, child abuse and depression often manifest themselves during the stress of the season.

These volunteers say they've formed a holiday alert response team to try to identify mental health issues that can lead to violence.

When these activists learn of trouble in families like domestic violence, child abuse, or depression that can lead to suicide; they are referring people to the United Way's 211 line where agencies offer help. You can also call 1-800-273-TALK for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, another helpline at 1-800-784-2433 or 1-888-279-8188 for the Kansas City Area Crisis Line.