Suicide prevention a priority for Warrensburg organizations

Dawn Morris speaks at the Suicide Prevention Forum on Sept. 16 at the Warrensburg Community Center.

WARRENSBURG — Suicide prevention resources and services available for students and adults were discussed during the Suicide Prevention Forum Sept. 16 at the Warrensburg Community Center as part of an ongoing discussion about mental health in Warrensburg.

Organized by Warrensburg Police Chief Rich Lockhart and Compass Health Community Mental Health Liaison Dawn Morris, the forum brought together representatives from Compass Health, Western Missouri Medical Center, the Johnson County Juvenile Justice Center, Whiteman Air Force Base, the University of Central Missouri and the Warrensburg School District.

“In the three and a half years I’ve been here, I’ve investigated more suicides than non-suicides and shootings combined,” Lockhart said. “We don’t have a lot of violent crime in our community, but we do have people who have lost hope and end up taking their own lives.”

Lockhart discussed the Johnson County Intervention Team Council that is comprised of police officers and mental health workers.

Lockhart stated that all Warrensburg police officers are Crisis Intervention Team certified.

For more information about Missouri CIT Council, visit

Morris showed a video of Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor and suicide prevention and mental health advocate, and discussed how suicide affects the community, stating that on average one suicide affects about 115 people.

“Most of the referrals that I get in three counties are on this subject alone,” Morris said. “Last year alone I had 405 referrals.”

For more information about Compass Health, visit

Communications Director Tara Carlyle with Western Missouri Medical Center discussed the Talk to Me program that was launched in January and the senior behavioral health unit within the hospital.

Program Manager Amanda Squires, with the Juvenile Justice Center, discussed the mental health consultant and the various programs available to juveniles at the Juvenile Justice Center.

Department of Justice Program Coordinator Jeff Huffman, with Whiteman Air Force Base, discussed the programs available to airmen and their families on base.

“The suicide issue is just as much of an issue for our active duty component as … for the veteran component,” Huffman said.

Huffman stressed the importance of involvement in and with the community as a suicide prevention method.

Huffman said there are also mental health resources available to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Assistant Director Dr. Jeanne Woon discussed the resources available to college students at the Counseling Center that is part of Campus Community Health at the University of Central Missouri.

“Suicide doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Woon said.

Woon said that when a student comes in, an assessment is conducted that aids staff members in helping those students. The assessment asks how often the student thinks about suicide and if they have plans to commit suicide.

For more information about the Counseling Center, visit

Assistant Professor Scott Huff, with the Central Missouri Clinic for Individual, Couple and Family Therapy at UCM, said the resources of the clinic are open to everyone.

“I tell my students … 60 to 70 percent of what I do in therapy is crisis line work,” Huff said.

The clinic is located in the lower level of the Campus Health Center. Therapists are masters-level students that are supervised by experienced clinical faculty members.

The clinic offers a sliding fee scale.

For more information about the clinic, visit

Sara Chapman, from the Warrensburg School District, discusses the Signs of Suicide program that will be implemented at Warrensburg High School to help students acknowledge suicidal thoughts or actions, care for their peers and tell someone when concerned about the safety of one of their peers.

Licensed Professional Counselor Lucas Taylor, with Compass Health, discussed the Zero Suicide initiative and the stigma associated with mental health.

“My vision is for every student in the public school system to have access to a therapist,” Taylor said.

Taylor explained that the goal of the program is to reduce the rate of suicide to zero.

“The first year that we implemented the Zero Suicide initiative we reduced the rate of suicide by 33 percent,” Taylor said.

Taylor explained the initiative involves reducing the stigma about mental health, “relentless screening” of patients with three questions every medical visit and the training of staff to identify those at risk.

For more information about Zero Suicide, visit

The national Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

Another event is being planned to continue the discussion, but has not yet been scheduled.

For more information about these events, contact Lockhart at or call the Warrensburg Police Department at (660) 747-9133.

Staff Writer Sara Lawson can be reached by emailing or by calling (660) 747-8123.

(1) comment


I would like to know how to get involved I have been trained as an Instructor with the Missouri department of Mental Health out of Jefferson City. please contact me at

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