Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Suicide claims record number of Coloradans

Colorado lost 1,058 people to suicide last year, the highest number in state history. That puts Colorado’s suicide rate at 19.4 per 100,000 residents — seventh highest in the country.
Suicide kills more Coloradans each year than homicide, car crashes, diabetes, breast cancer, flu or pneumonia. It is the seventh leading cause of death for all Coloradans and second leading cause of death for young Coloradans.
“For too long, suicide has devastated Colorado families,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We need to put our best minds and resources toward battling depression and preventing suicide.”
Suicide is highest in males and middle-aged Coloradans. Men account for more than 75 percent of suicide deaths, and the 35 to 64-year age group had the highest number of suicides in 2014, at 391.
Firearms contributed to half of all suicide deaths, followed by poisoning, hanging and suffocation, depending on age group.
Although state suicide rates have been increasing, there is some indication they have been leveling off, although at a record high rate, during the past three years. And Colorado state and community leaders are coming together to implement evidence-based strategies to turn around this tragic trend.

In 2014, the Legislature created the Suicide Prevention Commission of Colorado, comprising 26 public and private organizations tasked with setting data-driven, clinically informed priorities to combat suicide. In its first year, the commission has begun working on these priorities:
·         Working with emergency rooms, primary care providers and other health care professionals to provide training and effective follow-up care for people who attempt suicide.
·         Developing a pilot program with the Colorado Crisis and Support Line to provide follow-up phone support for individuals who are discharged from emergency departments after attempting suicide.
In addition, the health department’s Office of Suicide Prevention is collaborating with statewide partners to implement these evidence-based strategies:
·         Updating and evaluating Colorado’s Man Therapy website, a unique online resource that helps men with depression find “manly” ways to cope, with a more user-friendly platform and specific resources for first responders and veterans. The site will relaunch this fall.  
·         Piloting the Colorado Gun Shop Project in Routt, Moffat, Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties. Local suicide prevention professionals and firearms advocates work with gun shop owners, ranges and safety instructors to provide information about suicide prevention and firearm safety during times of crisis.   
·         Implementing the innovative Sources of Strength program to build a support system at schools and with caring adults to protect kids from a range of problems, including suicide.
“No one should die in isolation and despair,” said Sally Spencer-Thomas, CEO and co-founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation, suicide prevention commissioner, and survivor of her brother’s suicide. “Colorado must invest significant resources in saving lives and helping people connect to pathways to hope and help.”
To learn more or get involved, visit the health department’s suicide prevention page or the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help and hope are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Colorado Crisis and Support Line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255).  

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