New study: Mesa County has one of the highest suicide rates in state

Published: Jan. 4, 2019 at 4:17 PM MST
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The Colorado Attorney General’s Office released a new study analyzing the patterns and trends in suicidal behaviors among youth.

Colorado consistently ranks in the top ten states for the highest suicide rate. They hope this study will find the best ways to address the issue.

Mesa County along with El Paso, La Plata, and Pueblo counties have the highest suicide rates in the entire state, according to the study.

"When we have good healthy, trusting relationships we are more likely to reach out for help when we need it,” said Sarah Robinson, Program Integration Manager, Mesa County Public Health.

The study looked at age-specific suicide rates dating back from 2003 to 2017. Looking at the data, from 2003 to 2017, the study shows those aged 25 and older had the highest rates in Mesa County. However, from 2014 to 2017 those aged 10 to 18 had doubled.

In 2009 to 2011 rates hit an all-time high for those aged 19 to 24, as they far surpassed any other age group.

"By and large it’s adults that are carrying the loss burden of suicide deaths. Specifically middle-aged, older males,” said Genevieve Morris, School District 51 Suicide Prevention Specialist.

Statistics were gathered from interviews with public health departments, focus groups, schools and youth organizations.

"Now we have all of our middle and high schools participating in a resilient suicide prevention program and we are going to continue to make sure that all of our staff are trained every year in suicide intervention,” said Morris.

Risk factors include social media, cyberbullying, pressure about failing, lack of connections to a caring adult, substance use, and lack of acceptance. The number one contributor is mental health disorders.

"Making sure that they have important, safe people to talk to whether that's for youth or adults, we all need good, healthy relationships,” said Robinson.

The anonymous reporting program, Safe 2 Tell, got 2,786 suicide intervention tips last school year across the state. 103 of them were in District 51.

"Just solidified that we need to continue to do the work that we are doing and that we are making positive strides in those areas,” said Morris.

According to the study, more Coloradans die by suicide than homicide, motor vehicle crash, diabetes, and breast cancer. It's the second leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 34.

Mesa County Public Health says it’s best to look for warning signs in people. Look for people talking about being a burden, feeling trapped or hopeless, saying they want to die, sleeping too little or too much, showing rage and displaying huge mood swings.

If they are acting this way don’t leave them alone, remove harmful items like firearms and alcohol, and seek professional help.

Safe 2 Tell’s number is 1-877-542-7233 and the Colorado Crisis Line is 1-844-493-8255.

To read the full the report, click the link to the right of this page.