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Johnson County coalition reports latest statistics on suicide and prevention strategies

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds in the nation. The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition, a group dedicated to helping individuals and families in Johnson County who are affected by suicide, met yesterday for its annual meeting to report out on local efforts and statistics.

Some of the latest statistics on suicides reported at today’s meeting were:

  • From January – October of 2015, the Johnson County coroner reported 59 suicides and 15 overdoses. That compares to 72 suicides and 28 overdoes in 2014.
  • In 2015, out of the combined 74 suicides and overdoses reported in Johnson County, nearly 40 percent were in the 41-60 age range, and more than 32 percent were in the 21-40 age range.
  • Over three times as many people die by suicide in Kansas annually than by homicide.

"The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition started in 2012 due to the rising rates of suicides in our community,” said Shana Burgess, director of Prevention and Community Relations for the Johnson County Mental Health Center. “Each year the Coalition meets to not only talk about the latest statistics on suicides in our community, but to spotlight the coalition’s achievements over the past year as well as goals for the following year.”

 In 2015, the Coalition completed four Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) training sessions for those who work in law enforcement, clergy, schools, hospitals, and other caregivers who want to learn to help prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Other 2015 accomplishments include:

  • receiving key funding from the Kansas Youth Suicide Prevention project;
  • observing Suicide Prevention week;
  • launching awareness campaigns on traditional and social media.

This year, Olathe South High School presented a student written presentation called “I Choose to Live.” designed to educate high school students about the negative impacts of depression and suicide. St. Thomas Aquinas High School and the Olathe Police Department produced videos on suicide prevention.

The annual report out was attended by more than 50 professionals representing schools, law enforcement agencies, health care and mental health care centers, and others dedicated to helping individuals and families who are affected by suicide. It took place at the KVC Ball Conference Center in Olathe. For more information on the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition, visit http://www.jocogov.org/dept/mental-health/suicide-prevention/about-coalition.