Group of people with arms around each other

Youth Suicide Prevention

Youth Suicide is a complex community challenge, and each life lost impacts many families, community members, and those who diligently work in suicide prevention. Youth mental health and suicide prevention has been a long-standing top priority for El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) and community partners.

Convened by EPCPH since 2015, the El Paso County Youth Suicide Prevention [YSP] Workgroup engages community partners to take collective action to support youth mental health, well-being, and suicide prevention. Since its inception, the YSP Workgroup has had 66 partner agencies and 24 community members and parents contribute to this work, including school districts, parents, behavioral health providers, faith community leaders, hospitals, the El Paso County Coroner’s Office, and other organizations that work closely with youth.

Vision | Youth across all communities, from every background, are prepared, empowered, and supported to survive and thrive even through difficult times.
Mission | Through collaboration, we prepare, empower and support youth by providing impactful suicide prevention.

The YSP Workgroup is connected to expanded County wide suicide prevention efforts with the El Paso County Suicide Prevention Collaborative. The collaborative is focused on evidence-based suicide prevention strategies and priority populations with a goal to reduce death by suicide by 20% by 2024.

In 2022, our county continued to see a lower death by suicide number, with four youth suicide fatalities among the 0-17 age group.

Death by suicide count and crude rates, El Paso County, ages 0-17, 2015-2022

Graph of Death by suicide count and crude rates, El Paso County, ages 0-17, 2015-2022

To expand local suicide fatality data, it is important to include youth who were 18 when they died by suicide. 18-year-old youth are often still in high school and are included in countywide youth suicide prevention efforts. In El Paso County, there were seven deaths by suicide among youth in the 0-18 group in 2022.

Death by suicide counts and rates, El Paso County, ages 0-18, 2015-2022

Graph shows Death by suicide counts and rates, El Paso County, ages 0-18, 2015-2022

Signs and Symptoms

  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide.
  • Being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Thinking there is no reason for living.
  • Feeling trapped, or like there is no way out of a difficult situation.

How can you respond?

If you notice any of these warning signs in anyone, you can help!

  • Ask if they are okay or if they are having thoughts about suicide (it is important to be direct, and use either of these questions: “are you thinking of killing yourself” or “are you thinking about suicide”).
  • Express your concern about what you are observing in their behavior.
  • Listen closely, and do not judge.
  • Reflect on what they share and let them know they have been heard.
  • Tell them they are not alone.
  • Let them know there are resources available that can help.
  • If you or they are concerned, guide them to additional professional help.

When you are concerned about mental illness and youth, you want to pay attention to changes in behavior. You want to examine the impact of change.

What to look for:

  • Pattern Adjustments: overeating or not eating at all, sleeping much more or much less than they used to.
  • Depressed mood and/or mood swings.
  • Lack of emotion or emotional response.
  • Withdrawing from others (friends, family members, and areas of interest).
  • Difficulty making decisions, concentrating or remembering.
  • Frequent self-criticism or self-blame.
  • Changes in hygiene.

For someone with an immediate life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1 for assistance.

  • 9-8-8 | A confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis workers.
  • Colorado Crisis Services Hotline: Call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 | This hotline will connect you to a crisis counselor or trained professional. The staffer will assess risk and determine if a mobile response is necessary
    • If a mobile response is necessary, the Mobile Response Team or Community Response Team will strive to make contact within one hour in Colorado Springs, or two hours outside of Colorado Springs.
  • Crisis Stabilization Units
    • Cedar Springs Hospital | Cedar Springs offers 24/7 referrals and assessments by phone or online for individuals of all ages who suffer from psychiatric disorders, substance use, or co-occurring conditions.
    • Diversus Health | Diversus offers a 24/7 walk-in crisis center for all ages, regardless of ability to pay for crisis services and counseling, as well as around the clock care for mental wellbeing.
    • Peak View Behavioral Health | Peak View offers complimentary assessments 24/7 for individuals of all ages seeking help and support for mental health and/or substance use.

Suicide prevention is everyone’s business, and we can all play a role in increasing mental wellness in our community.

There are several ways you can get involved today:

  • Reach out to our YSP Workgroup Facilitator to learn more about joining the YSP Workgroup as a member or a supporter
  • Attend a suicide prevention training
  • Familiarize yourself with local resources and support. See learn more tab for upcoming trainings

For more information on the Youth Suicide Prevention Workgroup or to get involved, please contact:

Brittany Riffle, MSW
Youth Resilience and Suicide Prevention Planner
El Paso County Public Health


Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Trainings

  • Mental Health First Aid/Youth Mental Health First Aid | A skill-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance use issues.
  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) | A two-day interactive training on suicide first aid, with a focus on identifying elements of a suicide safety plan, for anyone 16 and older, regardless of prior experience.
  • Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) | A 90-minute training with instructions on asking someone about suicidal thoughts, persuading them to get help, and referring them to community resources.
  • Soul Shop | An interactive workshop that equips faith community leaders and other people of faith to train their congregations to minister to those impacted by suicidal desperation.

For local training opportunities, visit: