Our View: Help neighbors in tough times | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Help neighbors in tough times

— The Routt County community is still reeling from the tragedy that struck Friday, a shooting that left two hospitalized. The Steamboat Springs Police Department has said a husband is suspected of shooting his wife and then himself. The two were going through a divorce.

There's a lot we don't know about Friday's shooting at the Cash household, including the specific events and problems that led up to the tragedy — and what the outcome of the investigation will be. What we do know, because police Capt. Joel Rae said as much, is that a phone call from a concerned co-worker probably saved a life.

When Rhonda Heaton Cash did not arrive at work Friday morning, co-worker Joan Ganz called police to ask them to check on her. As it turned out, Rhonda Cash had been shot at 6:30 a.m., police said. Robert Cash reportedly shot himself when police arrived.

We commend Ganz for stepping up and taking action when she was concerned. The situation underscores the need for people in our community to speak up if they suspect that someone needs help.

Diane Moore, executive director of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, said her organization is seeing higher instances of violence amid the economic downturn. The group, which focuses much of its efforts on helping women who are being abused, saw its busiest quarter ever in the first quarter of this year. Advocates served 101 people in the first three months of the year, Moore said.

"I wouldn't say all that increase is related to the economy, but I hear anecdotally, 'My husband lost his job, we're losing our home … I can't afford to leave because I don't have funds,'" she said.

Recommended Stories For You

Her agency provides workplace violence programs to help people recognize problems in colleagues. Advocates also can provide information about risk factors, and anyone with questions about how to help someone — and anyone who needs help — can call the office at 970-879-2034. Advocates' 24-hour crisis line is 970-879-8888.

"It really is about our community supporting each other in many ways," Moore said.

The risks in Northwest Colorado are real.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association created a Routt County Needs Assessment as part of a health planning grant process. In it, the VNA examined a variety of health-related issues, noting that Steamboat Mental Health has just part-time psychiatric services available and that the county's suicide rate is much higher than the state's.

Ronna Autrey works with Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide and Steamboat Mental Health. She has seen fewer reported suicides in Routt County than usual recently, though she said the economy has made her afraid that she'll see more.

It's important for people to recognize when people they know might be suicidal. To help them do so, REPS puts on Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainings. The next one is this week.

The ASIST training runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Concordia Lutheran Church. It's free and includes breakfast, lunch and snacks, Autrey said. Anyone interested in participating can call her at 970-846-8182.

"It's just invaluable training if you run into your family member or your neighbor who's really, really depressed and they have suicidal thoughts going on and you know what to do to get them to help," Autrey said.

In 2008, there were nine reported suicides and 118 reported attempts. In 2009, there were five reported suicides and about 115 reported attempts, she said. This year, there has been one reported suicide.

All but one suicide in Routt County in the past three years have been men ages 45 to 65, she said.

"It's a real tough age group to reach," Autrey said. "They're not seeking help. It's just really sad."

She said people should take it extremely seriously when someone mentions suicide. For people who won't get help on their own, Autrey suggested getting them to the emergency room.

Steamboat Mental Health can be reached by calling Routt County Communications at 970-879-1090. During business hours, the agency can be reached directly at 879-2141.

This is a close-knit community, and we have a special opportunity to help one another through difficult times. We encourage everyone to be attentive and responsive to the wellness of those around them.

Be trained to help

What: Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainings

Where: Concordia Lutheran Church

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday

Cost: Free

Call: Ronna Autrey at 970-846-8182

How to get help

Advocates Building Peaceful Communities

Office: 970-879-2034

24-hour crisis line: 970-879-8888

Steamboat Mental Health

Through Routt County Communications: 970-879-1090

Office: 970-879-2141