Suicide Among Adolescents and Youths in Kansas

Rising Rates in the Sunflower State

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Key Points

  • Kansas had the 10th highest suicide rate in the nation for youths age 15-24 and the 11th highest for early adolescents age 10-14 in 2016-2020.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death for Kansas early adolescents age 10-14 and youths age 15-24 in 2016-2020.
  • The Kansas youth suicide rate increased 63.8 percent, from 13.0 per 100,000 population in 2001-2005, to 21.3 per 100,000 in 2016-2020, which outpaced the 41.1 percent increase in the U.S. overall (9.9 to 14.0 per 100,000).
  • Six in 10 (60.9 percent) male youths who died by suicide in 2016-2020 died by discharge of firearms, while firearms accounted for a quarter (24.2 percent) of female youth suicides in the same period.


The COVID-19 pandemic, among other impacts, sharpened the collective focus on behavioral health challenges and outcomes for young Kansans. Additionally, recent youth suicides in communities across the state have brought attention and action to mental health issues and suicide prevention in Kansas. This fact sheet reviews suicide rates and means of suicide among early adolescents age 10-14 and youths age 15-24 in Kansas from 2001-2020. The data have been aggregated to five-year periods due to small sample sizes.

Suicide Rates Among Kansas Youths

Suicide was the second leading cause of death for Kansas youths age 15-24 in 2016-2020, and the 5-year combined number of Kansas youth suicide deaths increased from 271 in 2001-2005 to 442 in 2016-2020. Kansas experienced the 10th highest youth suicide rate in the nation in 2016-2020 (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Rates of Suicide Per 100000 Among Individuals Age 15-24 by State 2016-2020

For both Kansas and the U.S. overall, youth suicide rates increased steadily from 2001 to 2020, but rose more rapidly beginning in 2014-2018. In the past two decades, the youth suicide rate in Kansas has been consistently higher than the U.S. overall. The 63.8 percent increase in the youth suicide rate from 2001-2005 to 2016-2020 (13.0 to 21.3 per 100,000 population) in Kansas outpaced the 41.4 percent increase in the U.S. overall (9.9 to 14.0 per 100,000) (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Rates of Suicide Per 100000 Among Youth Age 15-24 in Kansas and the US 2001-2020

Means of Suicide Among Male and Female Youths

There are differences in suicide rates between male and female youths. The suicide rate among male youths in Kansas has been higher than among their female counterparts (32.7 compared to 9.1 per 100,000 in 2016-2020), and means of suicide differ substantially between the two groups (Figure 3). For male youths, suicide by discharge of firearms was more than 1.5 times the rate by other/unspecified means (19.9 compared to 12.8 per 100,000). In contrast, suicide by discharge of firearms among female youths was one-third the rate of other/unspecified means (2.2 compared to 6.8 per 100,000).

Figure 3 Rates of Suicide Per 100000 Among Male and Female Youth Age 15-24 in Kansas 2016-2020

Suicide Rates Among Early Adolescents

Suicide deaths among early adolescents age 10-14, while lower than among youths age 15-24, also have increased, reaching 36 deaths in 2016-2020 compared to 12 in 2001-2005. Early adolescents in Kansas had the 11th highest suicide rate in the nation from 2016-2020 (3.6 per 100,000), and suicide was the second leading cause of death in the same period for this younger population. Although the comparatively lower number of suicides among early adolescents limits further analysis, the findings demonstrate the need for prevention efforts for this younger population.


Every suicide is a tragic event, and the loss of a child or youth can have especially wide and dramatic ripples across families and communities. The recent mental health challenges and social isolation exacerbated by COVID-19 further stress the importance of suicide prevention and calls for action to stop the rising number of suicide deaths in Kansas.

KHI would like to thank Lauren Gracy, KDHE, for assistance on this fact sheet.

If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat

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About Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.

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