Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition earns National Association of Counties Achievement Award

Director of Prevention Services and Community Relations Shana Burgess and Chair of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition Carey Spain been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties. On the right is Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mike Kelly

Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties. The award was announced at Thursday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting. 

“We are very proud that Johnson County has received this national distinction from such a respected organization,” said Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mike Kelly. “The innovative work of this expert, dedicated and passionate group is connecting people in our community to important, and sometimes life-saving resources, and I congratulate them on this honor.”

In recognizing the coalition, NACo noted the impact of their initiative to promote Johnson County Mental Health Center’s local crisis line. Their work to share the line, reduce stigma and encourage connections to care has resulted in a community more willing to reach out for help. Calls to the crisis line increased by over 150% between 2017 and 2022, from 17,684 calls to 44,357 calls in those years, respectively. 

Recently, the coalition began a new project to put crisis line signage in public buildings and spaces, like libraries and parks. 

“This award is a well-earned recognition for our community and its collaborative, sustainable effort to prevent suicide in Johnson County,” said Carey Spain, chair of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition. “As we look ahead to the coalition’s next decade, we’ll continue working together to address rising rates of suicide and advocate for timely, accessible behavioral health care and treatment.” 

The coalition was formed in 2012 when 150 community partners gathered for a suicide prevention summit hosted by Johnson County Mental Health Center to discuss rising rates of suicide in the community. Today, the coalition’s membership has grown to over 400 community members representing diverse sectors and perspectives. 

Along with their community partners, the coalition’s mission is to save and support life through awareness, education, and outreach. Over the past decade, they have distributed thousands of suicide prevention materials throughout the community, including resources for teens, veterans, and families concerned about a loved one. 

“The coalition’s work over the past 10 years has provided hope to our community and saved lives by reminding those who are struggling that they’re not alone and there’s a reason to keep living,” said Shana Burgess, Director of Prevention and Community Relations at Johnson County Mental Health Center. 

More information about the coalition and suicide prevention resources, including their new behavioral health care maps, are available at

Since 1970, the National Association of Counties has recognized innovative county programs that improve the lives of residents with their annual achievement awards. More information is available on NACo’s website

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