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Deaths from Suicide and Substance Abuse Rise in Kansas

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WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) — Deaths due to substance misuse and suicide are up across the country, but they’re rising even faster in Kansas. More people died of alcohol-related causes and suicide in Kansas in 2021 than in the country overall.

And the state’s overdose death rate is growing much faster. Opioid deaths rose nearly four times quicker in Kansas as they did nationally.

Brandon Reavis, with Trust for America’s Health, says the problem is worse in rural communities. “Deaths arise out of chronic physical and emotional pain that can be related to lack of opportunity, other social economic conditions,” he said.

Experts say addressing the issue will require removing barriers to mental health care in rural areas. Kansas recently ranked last in the country on mental health issues and access to treatment. Lawmakers recently passed legislation to make it easier for therapists to get licensed, but a mental health care worker shortage persists.

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