STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — #Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in Colorado, and the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 44.
In 2019, Routt County has seen two #suicides. In Moffat County, there have been eight lives lost to #suicide.
In 2018 in Colorado, 1,168 people ended their lives, according to the Colorado Health Institute. Men are twice as likely to die by #suicide.
#Suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999, according to the #CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
Tuesday is World Suicide Prevention Day, part of the National Suicide Prevention Week, and the entire month of September, aimed at engaging health professionals and the general public around the difficult topic. #Suicide Warning Signs
- Comments or thoughts about #suicide (suicidal ideation)
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
While it has long been considered taboo — and even risky — to talk about #suicide, there is now a big push for de-stigmatization and increased awareness and conversation.
The #NationalSuicidePreventionHotline advises that “Research shows people who are having thoughts of #suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase #suicidalideation.”
Stephanie Monahan, executive director of The Health Partnership, is also working to de-stigmatize #suicide and #mentalhealth and create a local support system — a brick house made up of community members and organizations that can be relied upon when people find themselves in a storm.
Everyone has #mentalhealth, Monahan notes. Just like physical health. And just as we are susceptible to physical injury, she said, we are susceptible to #mentalhealthissues — whether that be a brief bout of despair or #anxiety, a deep #depression or more extreme #suicidalideation.
Built from the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment, this year’s Wellness Conference on Nov. 1 will have a special focus on connecting resources and creating that “brick house” and strong community support network. Monahan wants help to be readily available to any and all and for everyone to feel comfortable asking for help.
#Suicide can be prevented, REPS (Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide) Executive Director Mindy Marriott wrote in a news release. “And it takes all of us.” Start by understanding risk factors, she said, which can include a family history of #suicide or child abuse, a history of #mentalillness, alcohol or substance abuse, local epidemics of #suicide, impulsive or aggressive tendencies, isolation, loss, physical illness and easy access to lethal methods. 24/7 Colorado Crisis Services
- Local Crisis Hotline: 1-888-207-4004 or text TALK to 38255
- #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline and online chat: 1-800-273-8255
Protective factors, Marriott wrote, can act as a buffer from #suicidal thoughts and behavior, and include effective #mental and physical health care and treatment, family and community support in seeking treatment and social connectedness.
REPS offers free therapy and counseling services to anyone having a #mentalhealth crisis or suffering from #suicidalideation. Funded through private donors and grants, REPS will reimburse contracted providers for five free therapy sessions.
Thus far, the service is under-utilized, Marriott said, and she is working to spread the word.
One way to get involved is as a #SuicidePrevention Advocate volunteer.
The unique program is a collaboration between REPS and UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center — utilizing a team of trained volunteers on-call 24/7 to “act as an advocate to those who have had #suicideideation or a #suicide attempt.”
There is a big need for more volunteers, said Marriott. They want to fill every 12-hour shift, during which a volunteer provides support during hospital stays, as well as follow-up care and connection to resources. There are four free trainings held each year.
Another free training provided by REPS is called QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer.
The training is available to any organization or group that requests it. There were 18 trainings in 2018 and 14 so far in 2019.
According to the QPR Institute, “Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a #suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.”
The next QPR Training will take place Sept. 26 at 9:30 a.m. at Sotheby’s in Steamboat Springs.
Despite the two deaths by #suicide in the county this year, Marriott said, “REPS has made tremendous impacts in the community by raising awareness about REPS organization and programs, offering education and support for those in crisis and providing free training for more than 600 people in our community.”
One of the year’s biggest accomplishments, she said, has been the establishment of a monthly support group for survivors of #suicide.
Those left behind often experience a wide range of painful and complicated emotions and reactions in addition to the tremendous grief — such as trauma, guilt, anger, shame, rejection and confusion.
And, because of the #stigma attached to #suicide, support for those survivors most in need can be hard to find.