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Media Advisory

img_6532For immediate release:
Aug. 24, 2016

Shana Burgess, Director of Prevention and Community Relations
Johnson County Mental Health Center
913-715-7880 or cell 214-458-7844

Sharon Watson, Director of Public Affairs & Communication
Johnson County Manager’s Office
913-715-0730 or cell 913-636-1732

Media advisory: Johnson County events to highlight suicide prevention week Sept. 5-11

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Kansas and the second leading cause of death for Kansans age 10-34. Suicide rates in the U.S. are the highest they have been in three decades. Each year, 42,773 Americans die by suicide.

In 2015, 477 individuals died by suicide in Kansas, and 72 of those were in Johnson County. In 2014, 454 people died by suicide in Kansas, and 72 of those were in Johnson County.

The number of youth in the nation who attempted suicide or seriously considered attempting suicide has also increased in recent years. According to CDC, 8.6 percent of youth surveyed attempted suicide (one or more times during the 12 months before the survey) in 2015, compared to 6.9 percent in 2007. In 2015, 17.7 percent of youth surveyed seriously considered attempting suicide during the 12 months before the survey, compared to 14.5 percent in 2007.
To address this growing concern, the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition was established in 2012 to help local individuals and families who are affected by suicide through preventative resources, education, and community partnerships.

National Suicide Prevention Week is September 5th-11th with the theme of “Suicidology: A Place for Everyone.”

Local events leading up to and during Suicide Prevention Week
· Thursday, August 25th: Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition Meeting, 3:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at Johnson County Mental Health Center – 1125 W. Spruce in Olathe

o Coalition being presented a $9,725 check from Flippin’ Sweet Memorial Disc Golf Tournament in memory of Tom Karlin and Grant Gottschalk.

Flippin’ Sweet Memorial Disc Golf was founded in 2012 to raise funds and increase awareness for suicide prevention and depression awareness in memory of Grant Gottschalk and Tom Karlin. Since 2012, Flippin’ Sweet Tournaments have raised over $25,000 for local suicide prevention and has now joined ranks with the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition. In 2017, the tournament will be held at Thornfield Disc Golf Course in Stilwell, Kansas on September 9th.

§ Tournament Contact: John D. Erickson, 913-626-0542

o Coalition unveiling a new initiative in partnership with local law enforcement to promote the Suicide Prevention Lifeline number on law enforcement vehicles throughout Johnson County. 500 magnets will be distributed to local law enforcement to place on emergency vehicles.

§ Law Enforcement Contact: Shawn Reynolds, Deputy Police Chief, Olathe Police Department 913-971-6355 or

o Coalition distributing Suicide Prevention Week toolkits to local schools including suggested social media posts, handouts on warning signs and local resources, and educational giveaways including bookmarks, bracelets, magnets and posters to be handed out to students throughout the week.

§ Coalition School Liaison Contact: Joe Kordalski – or 913-687-4333

· September 1st, Suicide Prevention Week Proclamation at the Johnson County Board of County Commission, 111 S. Cherry St. Olathe, Kansas.
§ Contact: Shana Burgess, cell: 214-458-7844

· September 15 and 16, Upcoming Suicide Prevention Training, 8:30 to 4:30 p.m., De Soto Administrative Office, Cost $100.00

o Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training is a two-day workshop for caregivers who want to feel more comfortable, confident and competent in helping to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. To learn more, call 913-715-7880 or visit

§ Training Contact: Kevin McGuire, Johnson County Mental Health Center 913-826-4154 or

· New Kansas legislation affecting schools effective Jan. 1, 2017 Jason Flatt Act

o Kansas was the 19th state to pass the Jason Flatt Act bill requiring at least one hour of suicide prevention training each year for all school district personnel beginning January 1st, 2017.

§ School District Contact: Dr. Mark Schmidt, Executive Director of Student Services in Blue Valley School District. All media contact should be directed to Blue Valley Communications at 913-239-4329.

About Johnson County, Kansas
Located in the southwestern quadrant of the Kansas City Metropolitan Region, Johnson County, Kansas is a community of choice with a current population of more than 575,000, making it the most populated of the 105 counties in Kansas, but traditionally having the lowest mill levy in the state. For more information visit the county’s website at


Sharon Watson
Director of Public Affairs and Communications
County Manager’s Office
111 S. Cherry Street, Suite 3300 Olathe, Kansas 66061
Direct 913-715-0730 | Cell 913-636-1732
Office 913-715-0430 | TDD 800-766-3777
cid:E63DAC3C-0853-46A0-8159-8AE0D0BC0776 I @jocogov I F/jocogov

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