Johnson County Mental Health Center (JCMHC) collects and uses data internally regarding mental health needs and services to make data-informed decisions about staffing, services and other resources. This data is sent periodically to the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners and county management. All the data collected is in real-time and should be considered unofficial and or preliminary.
During the time period of March 23 – July 31, there were 27 deaths by suicide in the Johnson County community based on this preliminary data. Although this data was captured during the pandemic, it does not mean that these tragedies were caused by the pandemic.
“We would be very hesitant to ever state with any certainty a cause of suicide, other than loneliness and despair,” said JCMHC Director Tim DeWeese. “Unfortunately, our community has been experiencing an epidemic of suicide for several years. While COVID-19 has certainly impacted our community’s mental wellness, so has social discord, the economic crisis, racism and the sense of division and polarization.”
The total number of deaths by suicide from January – July 2020 is 47. There were 39 deaths by suicide in 2019 and 49 in 2018 over the same seven-month time period.
“The total number of deaths by suicide so far in 2020 is slightly higher than 2019 currently, but lower than 2018,” said DeWeese. “We believe that it should be noted that the work the community has done around suicide prevention, access to care and reducing stigma have created a level of awareness which may explain the higher numbers of people reaching out for help, which is evidenced by the fact that during this same period, the organization has experienced an increased number of unique clients served, emergency contacts, crisis line calls and walk-in triage.”
It is important that members of the community check in with one another, beyond just “how are you?” Individuals need to ask each other about our mental health, about our sleeping habits, our eating and exercise and about how we’re doing connecting with other people. It will take our entire community working together to care for one another and to prevent as many suicides as possible.
If anyone is starting to experience symptoms that are impacting your ability to work or interact with others, please call us at 913-826-4200 for an initial assessment of your needs. If you or someone you are caring for is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call our 24/7 crisis line at 913-268-0156.
Safe suicide reporting: reportingonsuicide.org