Stories of surviving suicide

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) In light of suicide prevention month, two Grand Valley residents shared their stories of how they've survived suicide.

Mesa County struggles with a high rate of suicide.

Since 2007, 230 Mesa County families have lost a loved one to this tragedy. In 2011, 44 people died by suicide in Mesa County and in 2012 it climbed to 47. So far, in 2013, the numbers aren't looking promising.

Nearly 90% of the people who died by suicide are struggling with mental illness.

From a very young age, Jan Leweellen knew she had some sort of mental health problem, but it wasn't until high school she sought help.

"I had somebody to talk to and I saw counselors in college," said Leweellen.

Leweellen later married and it was after the death of her husband when things took a turn for the worse.

“I made three suicide attempts, then got it together and about a year after that I had a serious car wreck and that threw me off base and I made another suicide attempt," said Leweellen.

She says to others, it may not sound realistic to attempt suicide, but in that moment those feelings are very real.

“The desire to leave this earth is very real. Even if a person doesn't complete suicide they still need help," said Leweellen.

Dave Fishell, a Grand Junction author and historian, has struggled with depression for over three decades and has had suicidal thoughts. He says it's a hard subject talk about, but an important one.

“A lot of people have suicidal thoughts, but trying to get people to talk about it and bring it out in the open, is one thing I'd like to do more of," said Fishell.

One thing Fishell has learned from his battle is that people may not realize the impact suicide has on loved ones.

“Feeling is for your family or friends left behind and I realize that, you don't think about that, nobody's told you that before," said Fishell.

Leweellen and Fishell want the community to know there is help out there and if you have experienced suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide, you are not alone.

Dave Fishell also works with the Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Foundation and he says men are five times more likely to die by suicide than women.

He also says creating awareness about suicide prevention is an important step in bringing down suicide rates.

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