LENEXA, Kan. — September is suicide prevention month. A Johnson County family is going the extra mile to strike out the stigma after losing their loved one to mental illness.
The Carl’s Cause Golf Tournament at Canyon Farms supports suicide prevention.
The money they’ve raised over the last few years has gone to help dozens of people across the Kansas City metro. A Chiefs player even heard about the cause and is joining the movement.
Family started Carl’s Cause after their son, brother and uncle died by suicide. He was 27-years-old.
“It’s probably the worst experience any family can go through,” mom Kelly Specht said.
Carl was athletic, outgoing, and working for a fortune 500 company when he took his own life in 2017.
“Carl was really an all-American boy,” Specht said. “He’d never struggled at all with depression and anxiety until he was in his early 20s in college, which apparently happens a lot to smart, young males in their early 20s.”
Depression does not discriminate. That’s why they tee’d up the tragedy and turned it into helping others.
Carl’s Cause partnered with the University of Kansas Health System. The nonprofit raised more than $250,000 for the behavioral health department, swinging in a new position.
“I’m a bridge for patients who are needing psychiatric services after they discharge from the hospital,” Demetri Trauten said.
She is the behavioral health navigator. In one year, they’ve guided 60 lives and are currently working with 30 more.
“We feel like we are really doing something to make a difference,” Specht said, “and these are things carl would have benefited from.”
Resources Reagan Steele’s family could’ve used, too. Her two brothers died by suicide.
“It’s always important, but this year too we’re having so many crises of mental health and people that are alone, and the need is greater than ever,” Steele said. “I think it’s really important to have a whole month of just talking about it, raising awareness, having people understand that it really is important and it’s okay to talk about it.”
Steele’s boyfriend is Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill.
He supports suicide prevention through the ‘My Cleats, My Cause’ operation with the NFL.
Thornhill plans to sport Carl’s number three on his cleats in support.
“I think I’ll be splitting it with suicide prevention and on the other side it will be Carl’s Cause,” Thornhill said. “I’m really excited about it and ready to put them on my cleats.”
Keep an eye out for those Carl’s Cause/Suicide Prevention cleats to hit the field at Arrowhead Stadium soon.