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Dodge City Churches Come Together to Battle a Suicide Epidemic with 'A Night For Life' Youth Conference
Contact: Rev. CJ Conner, 620-255-9597

DODGE CITY, Kan., March 13, 2018 /Standard Newswire/ -- Dodge City, Kansas, is in the midst of a crisis of life. 9 people ages 5 to 24 have committed suicide in 2016 in Dodge. Though the numbers aren't in yet for 2017, suicide among our young people seems to be accelerating and is taking a cruel toll on families in Dodge City.

According to numbers from the Kansas Department of Health, there were 78 suicides in the 5 to 24 age group across the entire State. That means more than 10% of all suicides among young people in the State of Kansas happen in Dodge City. Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among young people in Kansas. The rate of suicide in Dodge City is twice the national average, at 32 for every 100,000 people.

"This isn't just a rough time we're going through. This is a full-blown crisis, one that few communities are ever prepared for," says Rev. CJ Conner, Director of Aspire Dodge City.

"There are many, many factors that are contributing to this moment," says Conner. "The disintegration of the American Family, the culture of death that is on display day-in and day-out on social media and in the television programs our children watch, and some unfortunate failures of our institutions can all be blamed for the present public health crisis."

"This is a time when a community needs to dig deep into the well of the soul, deep into the things of God, because such widespread suicide among our youth exposes deeper problems within our culture. This is a real time for us to ask, as policy makers, pastors, and professionals, are we aspiring to be the best we can be? When our youth look to us, do they have hope, or despair? Are we fostering a culture of life in Dodge City, or a culture of death? Do our lives and actions inspire our children to good, healthy things or have we abandoned them to the darkness of the world? Are we raising our children with a strong sense of identity, belonging, and love, or do we live in a town that neglects them?"

Rev. Conner says that these are some of the tough questions adults need to answer, but in the meantime, Dodge City Christians and Churches have a unique voice to share, a message that can't be found anywhere else.

On Wednesday March 28th, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Aspire will host "A Night For Life" in partnership with a number of organizations and congregations throughout Dodge City and the region. The event will take place at the Dodge City Civic Center. Free Pizza will be served.

Pastor Scott Tilley of Bucklin Community Church is the keynote speaker for the evening. "Do these children know who they are? Do they know whose they are?" he asked. "Identity is so important. It is so common to meet young people who don't understand their true value as children of God, redeemed by Christ."

"Depression and thoughts of suicide have become the norm among young people here," said Josh Smith, Youth Pastor at First Assembly of God in Dodge City. Wiping a tear he added, "As youth pastors we have been struggling everyday with 'what more can we do to help our youth,' why so many suicides?"

The conference will also include training for youth led by Counselor Maria Cox. "We want to teach them ways to recognize friends who are in trouble, to teach the youth how they can be a support to one another. We also know that a lot of kids will be there who are struggling themselves. We want to minister to their souls. Pastors and other community leaders will be on hand to pray and counsel with young people and families."

"This event is for everybody," said Rev. CJ Conner, "Parents, Professionals, Teachers, all Churches, everybody throughout Southwest Kansas. Right now we all need to come together and surround our children with support, love, and care. In fact, we need each other as parents and caring professionals more than ever given the last few weeks."

"I think the significance of having this event as Good Friday approaches is powerful," said Pastor David Graves of First Assembly of God, a Sponsor of the event, "Christ died for you so you don't have to."

What: "A Night For Life" Youth Conference

Where: The Dodge City Civic Center, Dodge City KS

When: Wednesday, March 28th, 6-9 p.m.
Free Pizza will be served from 6-6:30 p.m.