Suicide is the leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 17 in Colorado. In El Paso County, the suicide rate among youth under the age of 18 has increased in recent years, from 7 completed suicides in 2014 to 14 completed suicides in 2015 and 15 completed suicides in 2016. Suicides accounted for over 50% of all child fatalities among youth under 18 in El Paso County that were reviewed by the El Paso County Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) in 2016.
The public health approach to suicide prevention requires the community work together to address system, community, family, and personal risk factors that can lead to suicide. El Paso County Public Health convenes a work group of nearly 40 community partners to achieve the following goals:
- Increasing communication between and among youth serving agencies when a youth is identified as at-risk for suicide to increase coordination of services and activities;
- Reducing the stigma of behavioral health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, in order to increase help-seeking behavior among youth;
- Improve depression screenings in primary care and public health settings to identify youth at-risk for suicide and refer them to appropriate treatments.
El Paso County Public Health currently convenes the Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) to review youth fatalities and recommend prevention strategies. The CFRT is comprised of a number of youth-serving agencies, such as schools, law enforcement agencies, behavioral health providers, medical providers, suicide prevention organizations, the District Attorney’s Office, and the El Paso County Department of Human Services among others. In 2015, the CFRT adopted the overarching goal to reduce the number of youth suicides in El Paso County.
No single intervention or prevention program can prevent all suicides. Suicide is most effectively prevented by a comprehensive approach through implementation of programs across all ages and settings. Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention.
What can you do to prevent suicide?
Recognize the warning signs
- Talking about dying
- Recent loss (death, divorce in family, broken relationship, etc.)
- Change in: personality, behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits.
- Fear of losing control
- Low self-esteem
- No hope for the future
Understand how to get help for a youth at-risk for suicide
- Express concern
- Ask directly about suicide
- Encourage them to seek help (hotlines, crisis services, mental health services, etc.)
- Involve an adult they trust
- Call 911 for immediate concerns about safety
Get trained on how to help those in a mental health crisis or those who are suicidal
- Mental Health First Aid/Youth Mental Health First Aid
- Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) or other gatekeeper trainings
If you or someone you know is in need of support, please contact the Colorado Crisis and Support Line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text "TALK" to 38255 or go to www.coloradocrisisservices.org to access chat. Help and hope are available 24 / 7 / 365.
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Office of Suicide Prevention
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Youth Suicide Prevention
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Colorado Crisis Services
- Crisis Text Line
- How to talk to your kids about suicide
- Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents & Educators
- Save a Friend: Tips for Teens to Prevent Suicide
- Suicide Prevention: Facts for Parents