Our View: Suicide can be prevented | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Suicide can be prevented

Over the past five years, 16 people in Routt County have taken their own lives, and in 2019, there have been two suicides. From 2004 to 2017, the county had a suicide rate of 20.9 suicides per 100,000 people, which was considerably higher than the national average of 14 suicides per 100,000 people.

Suicide is the seventh-leading cause of death in Colorado and the second-leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 44. There are also several studies, as reported this week in Steamboat Pilot & Today, that link living at higher altitude with higher rates of suicide, making it more of a concern for our mountain community.

These statistics are sobering and do not include the number of people who attempt to take their own lives each year. And we also have no way of knowing how many people are living in Steamboat and struggling alone with suicidal thoughts who need help and support. 

For the past several years, the number of suicides in the county has actually dropped, and we believe that’s due in part to resources available in the county through programs like REPS — Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide — and the upcoming Yampa Valley Wellness Conference on Nov. 1 at The Steamboat Grand, which is aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues, including suicide, as well as creating a strong community support network for those seeking help.

The month of September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and as these 30 days come to a close, we hope efforts to raise awareness about suicide continue. It’s a tough topic to discuss, but we know suicide can be prevented if people have access to help and support and if more community members learned to recognize the risk factors for suicide and look for warning signs that someone they care about might be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Suicide is not easy to talk about, but increasing conversations around the topic can actually save lives by destigmatizing suicide and encouraging people to speak up about their feelings of hopelessness and despair. Research shows that people who are having thoughts of suicide are relieved when someone asks about them in a caring way. Studies also suggest that talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.

At a glance

At issue: September is National Suicide Awareness Month, and suicide is an issue the Steamboat Springs community must address.

Our View: The month is coming to a close, but the conversation surrounding suicide shouldn’t end.

Editorial Board

  • Logan Molen, publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Michael Marchand, community representative
  • Jim Beers, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com.

It’s one thing to read statistics about suicide and talk about the issue but another thing to act, and here’s a list of how you can get involved in efforts to prevent suicide in Routt County.

•  Make a donation to support the free therapy and counseling services REPS offers to anyone going through a mental health crisis or suffering from suicidal ideation. These services are available thanks to donations from private donors and grants secured by REPS.

• Know the warning signs of suicide, which include: comments or thoughts about suicide; increased alcohol and drug use; aggressive behavior; withdrawal from friends, family and community; dramatic mood swings; and impulsive or reckless behavior.

• Train to become a suicide prevention advocate — volunteers who support those who have had suicide ideations or attempted suicide. REPS reports this is a big area of need because they like to offer this support 24/7 seven days a week.

• Participate in free QPR — Question, Persuade, Refer — training. People trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help. This training is available to individuals or organizations.

• Seek help if you are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide. Contact REPS at repsteamboat@gmail.com or 970-846-8182, call the local crisis hotline at 1-888-207-4004 or text TALK to 38255. There is also a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and online chat available at 1-800-273-8255 and suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

As a community, let’s work together to destigmatize suicide and support efforts to prevent it.

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