KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new resource for suicide prevention is now available online with the launch of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition website.
The Johnson County Mental Health Center launched the Suicide Prevention Coalition in 2012 “to increase community awareness, education and outreach,” according to a release announcing the new online resources.
“Our hope is that this new online presence will accelerate the work of suicide prevention in Johnson County by making it easier for community members to get direct access to resources,” Suicide Prevention Coalition Chair Sondra Wallace said in a statement.
The Suicide Prevention Coalition has gathered information about suicide prevention; resources to get help for teens, veterans and families concerned about a loved one; and resources for coping with suicide loss.
Johnson County also has a 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Line, which is staffed by local mental health professionals. It can be reached by calling 913-268-0156.
Those in need of immediate help also may call 911.
“The Suicide Prevention Coalition has demonstrated that it is a critical part of our overall strategy to prevent suicides and raise awareness about mental health in Johnson County,” Johnson County Mental Health Center Director Tim DeWeese said.
The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition also has gun locks and other resources to raise awareness available upon request.
“It’s one of the reasons why we are seeing an increase in the number of people reaching out for help with their mental health, while also seeing a decrease in the number of deaths by suicide,” DeWeese added.
According to the latest available data, there were 103 deaths by suicide in Johnson County in 2017 and 2018. That number dropped to 89 in 2019.
DeWeese said it dropped again in 2020 to 75.
While the number of suicide-related emergency room visits from March to December 2020 dropped for adults and teens compared to the same time period in 2019, the number of calls to the county’s Mental Health Crisis Hotline rose by 35% to 37,633 — or nearly 123 each day.
DeWeese credited the coalition and programs like Zero Reasons Why for the drop in suicides and increase in those seeking help — both positive trends, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic fueling increased suicide rates in other parts of the country and world.
"The work we've done up front letting people know where they can reach out for help, where they can go to get resources, just basically that community engagement, has really helped manage some of the symptoms, the mental health symptoms, that we maybe would have seen more prevalent with the pandemic if we hadn't done that," DeWeese said.
The Suicide Prevention Coalition meets — virtually for now — from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday each month.
It includes more than 450 members from businesses and organizations throughout Johnson County.
To learn more about the Suicide Prevention Coalition or to get involved, call 913-715-7880 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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