About KUTO

  • KUTO was founded in 1987 by Judy Crowell following the suicide death of her son, William T. (Billy) Crowell, Jr.  Her hope was to bring meaning to his much too brief life by saving the lives of other young people.
  • Fellow co-founders were Dr. Jack Pennington, Mr. John Camie, Lieutenant Dennis Hufford and Mrs. Kimberly Crowell Busch, although many St. Louisans participated in this goal and contributed to the early growth and success of KUTO.
  • Governed by a volunteer Board of Directors; three Directors are teens representing the different agency programs
  • Provides services that encourage young people to find the strength and hope to cope positively with the pressures and stressors in their lives
  • Only telephone hotline in the Midwest staffed entirely by trained teen volunteers
  • KUTO Crisis Worker volunteers help over 1,200 callers every year
  • Hundreds of students have completed training to become Peer Helpers
  • More than 35,000 yellow ribbons and KUTO wallet cards are distributed during Yellow Ribbon Project each year
  • Partners with mental health organizations and service providers to reduce the stigma associated with depression, brain illness and suicide
  • Offers support for teens that are struggling with grief, guilt, anger and sadness following a suicidal loss
  • Collaborates to offer creative initiates to advance peer mentoring, prevention advocacy and student-led health and wellness projects like Winning with Wellness, the Yellow Ribbon Project, Saving our Students, and Spotlight Theater T.E.E.N.
  • Member of the American Association of Suicidology
  • Member of the National Peer Helper Association, the Light for Life Foundation, the Mental Health Association and the United Way of Greater St. Louis
  • Awards scholarships to graduating seniors who plan to pursue a “helping field” in college or advanced education.


2019 ~ partnered with Safer Homes Collaborative to develop Conversations on Access to Lethal Means, a community training that encourages safe storage of lethal means as a tactic to prevent suicide

2018 ~ founding member Missouri Suicide Prevention Network charged with developing and implementing a state-wide plan for preventing suicide based on the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention

2017 ~ collaborated with Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to write the Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Model Policy template

2016 ~ grew collaboration with regional CIT programming to train officers in Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties

2015 ~ worked with 16,204 youth and 2,395 adults to reduce the risk of death by suicide

2014 ~ facilitated 899 hours of school based prevention education middle & high school youth

2013 ~ key partner with St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund for delivery of school-based suicide prevention education

2012 ~ expanded Gateway Youth Suicide Prevention Resources Partnership with representatives in Franklin and Jefferson counties

2011 ~ selected by St. Charles County Children’s Resource Board to provide suicide prevention education to county youth

2010 ~ partnered with the Guam Focus on Life Suicide Prevention Project to train 17 youth and 8 adults to provide a peer staffed telephone hotline for youth on the US island territory

2009 ~ collaborated with St. Louis County law enforcement to deliver advanced suicide prevention
intervention training to CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) officers

2008 ~ partnered with the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health to provide statewide suicide awareness and prevention education

2007 ~ convened the Eastern Region Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee, comprised of regional business professionals, educators, mental health service providers and ‘like-minded’ organizations and

2006 ~ coordinated the Gateway Youth Suicide Prevention Resources Partnership, a collaborative
community effort to provide youth services to communities in the Eastern Region of Missouri

2005 ~ partnered with area schools to launch Saving our Students, a student initiated peer facilitated depression education project

2004 ~ partnered with The Hopeline Network to launch the Youth America Hotline, the only nationwide toll free hotline staffed by youth friendly volunteers!

2003 ~ awarded Crisis Center Certification by American Association of Suicidology

2002 ~ collaborated on development of Project SPEAK, a multi-agency effort to implement regional suicide prevention services and education programs

2001 ~ adopted Winning With Wellness, student led health & wellness peer mentoring projects

2000 ~ added full time Program Director to staff

1999 ~ joined the United Way of Greater St. Louis

1998 ~ initiated Yellow Ribbon Project, school based suicide awareness project

1997 ~ researched & drafted Survivability, peer survivors of suicide program

1996 ~ 1st KUTO trained Crisis Worker training graduation

1995 ~ moved the Helpline from Life Crisis Services in Richmond Heights to 2718 S. Brentwood

1994 ~ joined Combined Health Appeal of Greater St. Louis

1993 ~ joined American Association of Suicidology

1992 ~ crafted Peer Helper Program and volunteer facilitator training

1991 ~ hired a full-time Executive Director

1990 ~ initiated SafeRides, a ‘no questions asked’ get home safe program with area hospitals and NCADA

1988 ~ KUTO Crisis Helpline opens in partnership with Life Crisis Service


Learn more about volunteering with KUTO.