Father Farnan’s Crusade: ‘I’ve buried too many’

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Catholic priest for 30 years, Father Don Farnan has seen enough. The pastor at the Northland's St. Charles believes suicides involving teens and young people are epidemic. He doesn't cite statistics, but they bear him out.

Records indicate Johnson County has seen 11 suicides through the end of June involving kids up to age 25. The suburban Kansas county had 19 all of last year in that same age range. Jackson County on the Missouri side has experienced 17 in that youthful age range through June.

"I feel like I have attended too many of these funerals of children. And it hurts, it hurts a lot," Fr. Farnan says, adding that for the young, the pressures of expectations, social media, bullying, and depression, can lead to that "momentary loss of reason."

Indeed, that's the title he gave his parish blog last spring, where he lamented his church and society's failure to be proactive at reaching young people who need help.

Kids these days, he reasons, haven't been taught how to problem solve and recognize that problems they face are likely temporary and won't matter weeks, months, or years from now.

"They don't have that sense of what the future is going to hold," he adds. "Or even if they do know that this is going to be okay years from now, it doesn't really matter because I'm living in the 'now' at this point in my life. And the now is a horrible situation."

Father Farnan's message: we must as institutions do better at being proactive, rather than just reactive in comforting the families and friends left behind. He says that's true of even his own Catholic Church.

Dillon Manthey of Lee's Summit has a similar message.

"Why? You have so much to live for. There's much more life that's ahead of you," he pleads to anyone who'll listen.

He should know. The teen has tried suicide, he says, three times. He's now getting counseling at Lee's Summit based non-profit ReDiscover after his doctor diagnosed depression, and working with a counselor to focus beyond the now.

"He's definitely on the right path there," the teen says of the Catholic priest. "There is help out there."

And as part of FOX 4's You Matter Campaign, we're "working for you" with similar resources to help share that message. Those resources are below.

"I don't ever want to do another child's funeral," Father Farnan sighs. "Especially one who committed suicide."

Teen Suicide Resources:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (TALK)

Kansas City Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-888-279-8188

Tri-County Mental Health 

*ReDiscover and Tri-County Mental Health are working together under a five-year federal grant to address teen suicide. The goal of the Show Me Zero Youth Suicide Initiative is to reduce suicides and suicide attempts by working on three areas:

1. Improve the system of care youth are receiving when they use emergency departments, hospitals or hotlines
2. Improve the capacity of schools to identify, respond and refer youth who are at risk of suicide
3. Strengthen prevention efforts for at-risk populations in other settings besides school.

The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition

The Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Missouri Department of Mental Health Suicide Prevention

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Suicide Awareness Survivor Support

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

National statistics on suicide

Youth suicide warning signs

Pathway to Hope

Panel Discussion on Suicide Prevention
6:30pm, July 13, 2017
Church of the Resurrection
13720 Roe Ave.
Leawood, KS 66224
Speakers include pastors, police officer, and mental health professionals

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