KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Every winter Kansas City flocks to what many consider “the” hill for sledding. It’s a steep slope from the playground at Brookside Park to Brookside Boulevard below.
“This is called Suicide Hill. That’s not the technical name for it, but that’s what the neighborhood calls it,” John Hotchkiss said Monday, playing with his son at the park.
Alyvia Elliott lives at the bottom of the hill directly across from the park.
“It’s great because I’ve got French doors on the side of the house, and I can just sit there and watch the kids and my husband sled,” she recalled.
But this April, Elliott’s world came crashing down in a wipeout more devastating than any seen on “Suicide Hill.” Her husband and the father of her two children, Dustin, 39, died by suicide.
“The park in which creates so much joy for us and our sledding hill all of a sudden felt very weird to say. Trying to explain to your children how their dad died is also the park in which they go to every day just felt wrong,” she said.
So her 11-year-old son came up with a petition he took to school, asking classmates not to call the hill at Brookside Park, Suicide Hill.
Elliott shared it on Facebook, where her posts are automatically tagged “Suicide Hill” and people encouraged her to make it a Change.org petition.
“The more you think about it and talk about it, calling something ‘Suicide Hill’ is probably not the wisest name for something that’s such a fun part of the city for a long time for families,” Hotchkiss said.
Alyvia will always remember Dustin sledding the hill with the kids. She plans to take them this winter, but just hopes people will consider calling it Brookside Hill.
“I know that not calling it Suicide Hill doesn’t bring their dad back, but it does have an impact in the way we belittle something as tragic as death to suicide,” Elliott said.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.
Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
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