Community members and stakeholders gathered at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center on Thursday, Jan. 30, to hear the Annual Report Out for the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition. The event featured presentations from SPC Leadership Team members, Johnson County Medical Examiner Dr. Diane Peterson and Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh. Here are the highlights:
- Preliminary data shows a 20% drop in deaths by suicide in Johnson County for 2019, with 81 deaths by suicide in 2019. There were 103 deaths by suicide in both 2017 and 2018. The 2019 total is expected to shift upward once the state finalizes its data.
- The SPC now has more than 490 members from across the county, representing dozens of organizations and industries.
- Ann Karty, Johnny Roland and Bonnie Swade were recognized for their service to the coalition as their leadership terms end.
- To date, SPC has distributed more than 7,000 gunlocks.
- The Department of Health and Environment has launched a website full of community health data, including mental health and deaths by suicide.
- The SPC was able to invest $39,507 in suicide prevention in 2019, while maintaining a strong financial position for the future. This is made possible through generous donations to the Friends of Johnson County Mental Health Center, directed to the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Although the event had a celebratory tone for the SPC’s successes, it also carried a sense of purpose for the future. Membership Coordinator Rennie Shuler-McKinney stated in her presentation, “While we celebrate a 20% decrease in suicides in 2019, we still must pause and recognize that 81 people died by suicide in 2019 in our county. We still have significant work to do.”