The #ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign formed the Johnson County Teen Council to address teen suicide prevention strategies in an effort to strengthen the voices of teens and share their unique insights.
In collaboration with the members of the countywide Superintendents’ Mental Health Convening, SpeakUp Foundation, and Tom Karlin Foundation, teenagers from each of the six Johnson County school districts are tackling strategy, initiatives, and tactics to improve social and emotional well-being for teens.
“It has become increasingly clear since we launched the #ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign in September we need to listen to the teens in order to disrupt this preventable epidemic,” said Dr. Wayne Burke, Spring Hill superintendent. “The Teen Council is the cornerstone of the #ZeroReasonsWhy story campaign and community mobilization effort to prevent teen suicide.”
Consisting of nine students from the six Johnson County school districts, the Teen Council met for its inaugural meeting on Nov. 19, 2018, and plans to meet monthly through the end of the campaign in May 2019.
Out of the first meeting, three pillars and objectives were identified and formed by the Teen Council to address teen suicide during the campaign.
1. Remove the Stigma
Eliminate the stigma associated with suicide and open the dialogue for change.
2. Build Community Support:
Bring the community closer to spur unconditional support without judgment.
3. Commit to Education:
Improve and implement mental health (and suicide prevention) education consistently and earlier in school acting as an executive team, the Teen Council is directing the ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign team in leading student, parent, educator and practitioner initiatives and tactics related to the three objectives above.
Council members will share advice and address city, county, and state civic leaders as representatives of the greater teen population.
Pam Stranathan, USD 231 superintendent, said when ZeroReasonsWhy began, “We feel strongly that by mobilizing necessary resources, disseminating information, generating support, and fostering cooperation across public and private sectors in the community, we can influence the conversation and de-stigmatize the issue,” Stranathan said. “Attempted suicides have increased, and teen death by suicide has nearly doubled in Johnson County in the first six months of 2018.”
In June, 2018, Johnson County superintendents initiated a deeper dialogue and identified collaboration opportunities. The #ZeroReasonsWhy campaign is intended to mobilize the community around this preventable epidemic.
The campaign’s website is zeroreasonwhy.org.
Other superintendents are Todd White, Blue Valley, John Allison, Olathe, Frank Harwood, DeSoto, Kenny Southwick, Shawnee Mission, and Mike Fulton, Shawnee Mission.